On the heels of the Associated Press floating the idea of charging search engines for its bulldog edition content comes the news that Twitter is in talks with both Microsoft and Google to include tweets in their search results. This may be a business model that actually works.
Search engines are, by nature, aggregators of content and serve as the doorway to the internet. With two search engines competing for market share, that means each must be on the top of their game. For sites like Twitter, that means their large user base (which generates relevant, in-demand content) is pretty valuable to someone conducting a search query.
These deals would also be the first answers the question of how Twitter will actually monetize that content. This arrangement would allow Twitter users to take advantage of a still-free service and actually help them attract traffic; it would mean a stream of revenue for Twitter that doesn’t involve someone saying, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, so I’ll write a check until you figure out how it makes money”; and it gives Microsoft and Google a way to provide better search results to increase their market share (which attracts advertisers.
It’s a good model, and like the AP’s plan, it takes advantage of the fact that, for the first time in a while, there is legitimate competition among search engines. This doesn’t work on an internet where one search engine is clearly dominant. And even though Google is the clear leader in search engine market share right now, Microsoft has the resources to stay in the game for a long time.