If you haven't heard of Bre.ad, don't worry, you're not alone.
This five-person startup founded by Alan Chan and funded by Lady
Gaga's manager, Troy Carter, among others, has been flying pretty
much under the radar (save for short post on Mashable). But this simple platform holds
much potential for brand and celebrity involvement, especially in
the hands of Twitter -- and it's launching to the public today.
On the surface, Bre.ad is a URL shortener, though instead of
focusing on custom URLs and link-tracking like others in the space,
it has built a social layer -- and with it, an opportunity for
brands -- on top of the "content sharing" user-behavior that
defines every social network.
Here's how it works. I shorten a link with Bread -- either
through their site or by typing in "bre.ad/" in front of the url of
any page I'm on (a nifty little trick they've designed but I'd
still prefer a chrome extension). From there, I can tweet it, post
it to Facebook, or share it however and wherever I want for the
world to click - and this is where things get interesting. Instead
of being taken directly to the site, those who click the link are
first shown an image selected from roster the bre.ad user has
designated in advance, for 5 seconds. This can be likened to an
interstitial ad of sorts, though the "bakers" at Bre.ad prefer to
call it a "personal digital billboard." In those few seconds, the
'clicker' has an opportunity to "toast" the image -- or in Facebook
terms, to "like" it. Once you've toasted someone else's image, it's
automatically entered into your own roster of possible images to be
shown to people the next time you post something via Bre.ad.
I met with Alan a few weeks ago and we discussed ways brands and
celebrities might use the service, and I definitely saw potential,
to say the least. Think about the millions of Twitter and Facebook
users who click on every link their favorite celebrity posts. Lady
Gaga tweets a link to a recent interview and her followers are
first shown an image of her new album cover, touting its release
data. Kim Kardashian tweets a picture of her new engagement ring
but upon clicking, her fans are first taken to an ad for Carl's Jr.
(or whatever she's shilling these days).
I spoke with Ted Hong, Fandango's CMO, who was similarly
intrigued by Bre.ad's ability to span the marketing and
entertainment arenas. "I think it's a really interesting form of
promotion that leverages social media in a way that I have not
previously seen," Mr. Hong told me via email. "Both brands and
entertainment properties can now promote in a very organic way via
the most targeted and relevant social media entities for their
particular needs. For example, you can imagine CBS asking Ashton
Kutcher to use Bre.ad to promote tune in for 'Two and a Half Men'
in front of his Twitter posts. [It's a] unique opportunity for
celebrities to show advocacy for a cause or project via social
media," he added, and as a consequence, "people may become more
thoughtful about what they share and what kind of 'toasts' they
place in front of the content that they share."
Anyone who's seen NBC's "The Voice" knows how hard Twitter is
working to situate the platform as powerful compliment to
traditional entertainment media as the best way to increase the
platform's adoption in the mainstream. Couple that imperative with
their need for revenue and Bre.ad seems like an ideal marriage, in
that it leverages a preexisting and ubiquitous behavior, but in
such a way that none of the advertising would take place on Twitter
itself and thus avoids tarnishing the native user experience
(though admittedly not so once you've left the site) –
something industry pundits and tech bloggers have feared
unavoidable in Twitter's journey to revenue.
In fact, when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo discussed the 'success'
of their current ad products, promoted tweets and trends, at the
recent D9 conference, many speculated that they've intentionally
kept its users to a minimum as to not over-saturate their users'
streams with ads, effectively self-imposing a limit to their own
revenue-generation. Attaching ad units to links that you only see
when clicking OUT of Twitter would serve to deliver an ad product
to marketers without making that sacrifice.
On top of that , Twitter would effectively be building interest
graph facilitating and analyzing the "toasts" - essentially
endorsements for the branded image a user identifies with the most.
Imagine if this system were baked into Twitter (pun intended) so
that any time you hit the "tweet" button on a website or post a
link via twitter.com, everyone who clicks it is shown an ad that
they can then "toast."
Here's what would happen:
Costolo also said at D9 that a billion tweets are "handled"
every six days, while a Twitter spokesperson recently told Ad Age
that roughly 25% of tweets contain links (a metric consistent with
what was announced in September, though a recent survey by Sysmos of one-day's worth of tweets claims
that number to be a bit lower).
Do the math. If all those links were fed through this service
and just one person clicked on each link posted, that 's 41,666,666
ad impressions right there. An instantly viable, inherently social,
ad product built on top of a user behavior that for all intents and
purposes, defines the platform, and that would forever put to rest
the fears of an ad-filled twitter feed while immediately reaching a
minimum of 41 million pairs of eyeballs.
Sure, that 's a big if, so let's look at it another way:
Twitter's President of Revenue, Adam Bain, recently announced that 80% of 'engagement' on Twitter
comes in the form of link clicking.
So that 's 175 million registered users, 80% of whom are
actively clicking on links, while sending out 165 million tweets
per day, 25% of which contain links.
If you can crunch those numbers for me, please do. But it's
clear that you've got a whole lot of people clicking on a whole lot
of links. It seems pretty obvious to me that somewhere in that mess
of metrics lays the answer to what may be Twitter's only
Based on Troy Carter's support and Lady Gaga's prominence in the
instructional video, I wouldn't be surprised if we see the mother
monster herself using the service in the near future, so keep your
eyes peeled to see if her followers revolt or embrace to new layer
of content, endorsing and sharing Gaga-branded digital
Check out the video below and let us know what you think. Is
this the solution to Twitter's revenue problem or will it piss
users off just as much as ads in the stream?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Teicheris Ad
Age 's social media and event content manager. Follow him on