What if Google bought Twitter?

by Shaminda Attygalle

I understand this proposition seems slightly outrageous, but the title was really meant to draw your attention to a few things I have noticed in the past little while. Twitter needs a revenue model... Google needs a way to be social... both companies are now becoming the go-to source for breaking news (The tragedy in Japan is evidence enough)... can you begin to imagine the synergies that could exist here?

Let me break down each point a little more and then perhaps by the end of this post you may be convinced that this idea is not entirely preposterous.

1. Twitter needs a revenue model - In 2010, Twitter made $45 million in revenue and in 2011 it is predicted to make $150 million. How exactly will it hit these numbers? Promoted trends/tweets/accounts? Perhaps. Will we see a membership model come into play whereby members get ad-free streams? Maybe. The real question with all of these is, how relevant are they to users and... will users revolt against it or has Twitter become so engrained into people's lives that they will just deal with it? I am really not sure what that answer is; however, I do know a company that has done quite well with ads... relevant ads of course. Would it be so wild to imagine that if Google bought Twitter... you could see a small window on your Twitter home screen saying, "ads relevant to your tweets?" Of course these ads would constantly be changing based on what you were tweeting about and based on conversion rates that marketers have been seeing for them. Crazy? Just imagine.

2. Google needs a way to be social - Google Me, Google Circles ... who knows what the next rumored name for a Google social feature is going to be. The big question is whether it will be a stand-alone product or whether it will be layered over many existing products? I'm inclined to believe the latter, if anything. We are already starting to see signs of social features... like social search. What would happen if you mixed Twitter with Gchat? Would it allow for the real-time collaboration of something like Google Docs to fantastically fuse with the real-time conversations of Twitter? Could this become Google Wave 2.0? (I'm sure that would make Gina Tripani happy). Either way, Google has some great products that could easily become more social and somehow involving Twitter may be the answer to that. 

3. The source of go-to news - Where did you first learn about the tragedy in Japan? A Google new alert? A tweet? If so, you can't really be closed to the idea of these two companies merging. After all, Google has done a truly fantastic job of covering not only the Japan tragedy but other global disasters and Twitter is more instant than watching CNN. Google already combines real-time results into its crisis response pages but what if Google allowed you to customize that page? What if you could merge your Twitter account with Google... sign into that page and get real-time updates from the people you follow and Google automatically curated all the articles they have tweeted about into one clean page. Would you call that the ultimate news room? 

Final thoughts: The majority of this post is centered around one idea... real-time relevance. Google has been a champion of relevance for a very long time and just yesterday (Monday March 21st) we celebrated the 5th year of real-time messaging on Twitter. Some of the things I have asked you to imagine in this post may seem outrageous and some may seem entirely possible, time will tell. For now, all I know is our need for real-time relevance is not going to die out anytime soon, so just imagine... what if Google bought Twitter? 

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a Stanford University dorm room and quickly spread to information seekers around the globe. Google is now widely recognized as the world's... more

San Francisco, California, United States

Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking... more

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Shaminda Attygalle

Shaminda Attygalle

Shaminda is a young marketer who enjoys discussing and learning about the fascinating field of digital marketing. He recently graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Honors Business Administration program with a specialization in marketing and a minor in psychology. He is currently the host of a podcast called, ‘The Digital Marketing Lounge’ where he converses with regular guests about... more

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