Twitter Plans to Become a Shopping Destination

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Twitter is already the place to go to follow breaking news or post snarky messages about Miley Cyrus. Now the company wants to feed your shopping habit, too.

This week Twitter poached former Ticketmaster president Nathan Hubbard to become the company’s first chief of commerce. His job will be to “go to people who have stuff to sell and help them use Twitter to sell it more effectively,” Hubbard said in an interview with Bloomberg.

It’s unclear exactly how Twitter will do this, but it will likely center around a further expansion of the functionality of Twitter Cards. These special tweets expand when clicked to feature article summaries as well as embedded photos and videos. They’re already a big part of Twitter’s advertising strategy, as promoted tweets can now feature videos with pre-roll ads. It’s not hard to imagine an expanded tweet that features a product pitch and a prominent “Buy” button.

Other companies have already leveraged Twitter as a direct commerce tool. Ribbon, a startup payment company, already embedded “Buy” buttons directly into tweets earlier this year, but Twitter killed off the unauthorized in-stream purchases hours after the feature launched. Chirpify, which allows users to purchase products by replying to marketing pitches with specific hashtags, has been used by companies such as Adidas and Taco Bell. Twitter itself also partnered with American Express earlier this year to allow users to make purchases via hashtag.

Commerce opens up new revenue opportunities for Twitter. Hubbard told Bloomberg that the company may take a percentage of any successful transactions. The ability to sell directly to customers would also place a premium on the value of promoted tweets, a primary revenue driver for the company. As Twitter eyes a potential initial public offering in 2014, expect the monetization initiatives to keep on coming.