How much damage can Twitter do to Google & bloggers?

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An interesting article from Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand this week on tracking traffic into his website via Twitter.

In a nutshell (and he’d probably be horrified to see it oversimplified like this) he was pointing out that for one of his articles only about a sixth of the traffic it actually got from Twitter showed up in Google Analytics.

The thing that really struck me was not so much the problem with Google Analytics but more what the implications might be for Google’s revenue and control over the search engine space.

Why? Well Danny’s suggested explanation for this missing traffic was that a lot of Twitterers use Twitter applications under Microsoft Windows or on mobile devices that don’t support javascript (Google Analytics tracks visitors to your website using javascript).

Twitter means less advertising revenue for Google’s Adsense product

However more importantly to Google’s revenue,  javascript is what Google uses to embed text ads in many websites (with a normal browser that supports javascript you’ll see ads in this page)  where the website participates in Google’s Adsense program.

No javascript (because someone looking at your website or blog coming from a link posted in Twitter is using some Twitter application that doesn’t support it) means no ads.

No ads means no revenue for Google or the blog owner.

How significant a problem are Twitter applications in this regard for Google and bloggers?

It’s hard to say at the moment. Danny was just looking at one article but the implication might be that up to 5/6ths of readers might not be seeing Google Adsense ads.

On a B2B site I consult for they receive a few million page impressions a year but within a few months of implementing a Twitter feed we now find that Twitter is the 7th largest referrer of readers to the site.

Imagine the revenue loss to this site if it turned out that only 1/6th of the actual Twitter users of this site were seeing our ads?

Yep, bloggers who thought Twitter was their friend would turn out to be wrong.

For Google it’s not the end of the world as  9/10ths of their revenue comes from direct search advertising (where they don’t have to share that revenue with any grubby bloggers).  However  the development and increasing popularity of applications that bypass javascript to view pages could be a threat and compete with their own browser Chrome, and Twitter’s willingness to let Google index the Twitter stream in real time could also be a problem (if there’s a better Twitter search engine because Twitter creates it or gives a 3rd party privileged access then Google is ‘on the outer’ when it comes to search ad  revenue from Twitter).

Perhaps the rumours earlier this year about a Twitter acquisition by Google might even get a second run? (-:

This article filed under the following 'Interest' categories (click category for more) Unanswerable questions

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Article posted by @Drivelry on June 26, 2009

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