Twitter could change the performance marketing sector if they only made self-serve, auction-priced advertising available. That would open up a massive audience of mobile device users: news-aware, location-aware, product-aware. It could be exactly what is needed to tip performance marketing into the mainstream. With a billion tweets every three days and 140 million active users, there’s a lot of inventory that performance marketers are ideally situated to monetize if Twitter would just give the chance. Today we may have seen another step towards this goal.

Twitter has historically had a strange relationship with performance marketers. From the early days in which illicit automated tools repeatedly followed and unfollowed hundreds of people every day in order to build up huge lists, through the great cleansing when Twitter moved to a locked-down API, to today when for most Twitter is just a part of the traffic mix but that’s all.

What is needed is for Twitter’s own monetization plans to progress faster. They have so far focused on brand advertisers with some success. Some analysts are forecasting revenues of between $540 million and $1 billion by 2014, with the discrepancy coming in how fast Twitter can monetize smaller businesses. For major advertisers, a pitch deck made available this week revealed a strategy that makes Twitter’s mobile-based appeal very obvious:

Twitter Mobile Graph

And from the AllThingsD article linked above:
One other item I’m not reprinting (again for the reason explained above): A slide where Twitter says it has plans to roll out “enhanced interest targeting” for its core Promoted Tweet product. In English: Right now, Twitter only offers advertisers a handful of crude tools when they want to slice up their target audience, but it has promised in the past that those would get more refined. The company isn’t offering a timetable for the new tools (at least not in the slides I’ve seen), but it’s confident enough about them to start talking them up to would-be buyers.

In my reading this implies that Twitter are using the experience gained from working with big advertisers to develop the tools they will need to effectively segment their inventory for later auction-based and TRP ad sales. If that’s true, and if they move as fast as their investors would them to, then we may see the next big opportunity for performance marketers arrive sooner rather than later.