Are you one of the best tweeters on Earth? Apparently Twitter has some way of determining whether or not you are, and if you fall on the right side of the line, chances are good you’re seeing a lot fewer ads on the service right now. Twitter has cut down on or eliminated ads for its power users according to a Re/code report, as the company continues to seek profitability under new/old CEO Jack Dorsey.
It’s unclear who gets on the list, but it definitely takes more than just the verified check mark. Whatever the threshold, those lucky few don’t have to deal with Twitter’s stealthy promoted tweets, the ads that have come to make up the vast majority of Twitter’s billions in ad revenue. As far as intrusiveness goes, Twitter’s ads have been hailed as some of the more user-friendly ones (insofar as ads can be user-friendly), which raises the question of why Twitter would get rid of them for their most loyal users.
The answer probably lies in Twitter’s changing strategy under Dorsey. Twitter’s stock has been plagued less by revenue than by stagnating user growth rates — to help bring in more users, Twitter under Dorsey has floated ideas like extending the character limit and has implemented somewhat controversial ones, like changing the favorite button from a star to a heart, a move that generated the sort of short-term, frothing outrage Twitter is best known for. Those changes are purpose-built to attract new users, which almost inevitably turns off the older users. The ad-free experience could be Twitter throwing a bone to their most loyal users.
Others have speculated that the ad-free experience could be a test for a subscription-based service that would remove ads for anyone willing to pay. That seems a bit far-fetched, though — the users who would actually give any amount of money to Twitter are probably those core users that now have that benefit for free. The idea of the everyday user paying to get rid of ads that aren’t really that intrusive seems like a pretty tenuous bet to make for a company that desperately needs their next big bet to pay off.