Twitter ‘Places’ Bold Move Towards Paid Search With Foursquare, Gowalla, Localeze, TomTom Ties

Twitter launched its ‘Places’ feature, pulling together local check-in services Foursquare and Gowalla, and meshing them in with data from local search firm Localeze and global navigation solutions provider TomTom.
The move was announced by Twitter’s Othman Laraki on the company’s blog as part of the company’s plans to contextualize tweets. Read on.

Twitter Means Business
With this multiple integration of location-based services (LBS) Twitter is following suite on what seems to be a gradual shift towards paid search. In fact, when it first launched embeddable tweets, Twitter did signal the beginning of the process. Then the company bought Smallthought and, in stride, announced the upcoming launch of its own URL shortener, while media reported that it was also testing a Facebook-like “You Both Follow” feature. This latest Twitter Places launch allows no more doubts as to where Twitter is looking to derive its revenues from.

Meta-Data: Tags, Annotations
In fact, Twitter Places is the first tagging opportunity that the micro-blogging site is offering and, in truth, it could well be the first Annotations feature.
Remember, Twitter did bar third-party ads from its API last month, arguing that ad networks and marketers would find new, more targeted opportunities once the Annotations feature would be launched.
Surely already having a clear idea of who was coming onboard, and with a couple of deals (Foursquare, Gowalla, Localeze, Tomtom ?) already in the pipeline, Twitter, at the time, gave a cryptic hint, saying: “Companies will emerge that provide all manner of rich data and meta-data services around and in Tweets. (…) Those that understand the benefits of extensible architectures understand their power and potential.”

How It Works
When tweeting from either or, you’ll now be able to tag a concrete venue as opposed to a general location such as a city. Look for the “Add your location” link below the Tweet box.
This is the picture provided by Twitter (and indeed, the World Cup provides a perfect environment for the feature launch):

Twitter places pic 1.JPG

So, when you click on the provided places, you should be able to see tweets sent from that same area.
Twitter has associated a “Twitter Place” with tweets generated through Foursquare and Gowalla, meaning that when you click on such places, you will be able to see check-ins at those venues on Twitter as well as tweets sent from the venues.
As Michael Boland said, check-ins are “grounded in specific places rather than random lat/long readings. This means clearer user intent, contextual relevance, and thus tangible business leads for SMBs.”

Data from partners Localeze and TomTom will support the deployment of Twitter Places across the U.S. and in 65 countries this week, although the company did not elaborate on who the happy few would be.
Localeze is a good bet for Twitter for the U.S. market as the company is the largest local search engine content manager for SMBs. It has been working on consolidating its position on the market and has recently launched its new Business Registration Manager feature to boost customer confidence.

Is Twitter The New Local Glue?
For mobile access, Twitter Places apps should be available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. For web access, it is now supported by any browser – “Safari and Internet Explorer, in addition to Chrome or Firefox,” Twitter touted.
Othman Laraki also said in the post that Twitter will allow external developers to integrate Twitter Places into their applications. This will help Twitter spread.
And “spread” really is the word. It seems that Twitter is looking to become a web glue for localized content, just as Facebook ambitions to be the one for the web in general with its universal “Like” button that links all sites to its platform.

That’s not all. Did you notice on the picture that Google Maps also came up with Twitter Places? Funny how no mention of this was made in the blog post…
It would be interesting to find out what the two companies have lined up. Google already has its Google Places, formerly known as “Local Business Center.”

Watch the video from Google Places:

Seeing synergies? We’ll keep our eyes peeled for you…

Unfortunately for Twitter, it had to deal with an unexpected double whammy news release as the site experienced a prolonged disruption after touting Twitter Places. Although it’s not clear whether Places brought about the malfunction, reports were out fast to point fingers…

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