In February, I predicted that Twitter's data would become so valuable to the likes of Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) , and Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) as to warrant a $1 billion valuation.
In March, my friend Rick Munarriz predicted that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) would buy Twitter outright. He saw The Big G creating AdSense streams that would flow through the Twitterverse, monetizing hiccups of data that Wall Street saw as mostly worthless.
Fast-forward a few months. Google and Twitter have discussed a deal, and investors now value the microblogger at $1 billion. I suppose that's the good news. But neither Rick nor I had this story exactly right; we still don't know why investors chose to pay so much for a slice of Twitter. But we do know that advertising is part of the plan.
On Friday, Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo told the audience at a TechCrunch event that the microblogger is already making more than $4 million per year and that its long-absent business model is taking shape.
"It will be fascinating. Non-traditional. And people will love it ... It's going to be really cool," TechCrunch reports Costolo as saying.
How to out-ad Google
Blogger Robert Scoble has a theory for what this fascinating approach might be, and it's a doozy. Specifically, he says that Twitter could allow tweets to carry more metadata than they do now, and in the process create a gateway for contextual links.
Metadata is data about data. Twitter shows you metadata when it includes the date and time a tweet was sent, whether it was in reply to someone, and the method used (i.e., website, third-party software, phone, etc.).
"How about a Tweet that talks about a book. Someone could write 'Loved Trust Agents by Brogan.' That could link to Amazon so you could put it on your Kindle," Scoble writes at his blog. How? Via a tag that says "books," or some such. Importantly, such tags wouldn't alter a user's tweetstream in any way.
Scoble calls the idea a "SuperTweet," but I call it good business sense, and a serious threat to Google and its would-be digital advertising challengers, including Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) .
But I've had my say. Now it's your turn. How much would a contextual ad strategy from Twitter hurt Google and its peers? Please vote in the poll below. You can also sound off in the comments box at the bottom.