When Twitter launched a stickers feature for photos back in June, nothing was said about how the company planned on making money off them.
On Monday, the company unveiled “promoted stickers," which are exactly what they sound like: stickers that are created by brands that will pay Twitter to push out their content to its 300-million-plus users.
While Facebook and Snapchat were already offering stickers long before Twitter got there, Twitter was actually able to harness the power of its network in an interesting way. It added a more social element to the feature by letting users search for photos based on which sticker was used. That basically turns stickers into something akin to what the company calls a "visual hashtag," and makes it easier to find and share photos with a specific sticker.
It's not hard to to see why a feature like this would be appealing to a brand trying to promote, and share, its content. Twitter has made it that much easier for brands to find how users are engaging with the stickers they've created.
"A brand’s stickers will be featured in the #Stickers library and offer a form of creative expression that makes a person’s photos more fun and engaging," Twitter explained in a blog post. "Promoted Stickers represents a huge opportunity for brands to drive brand affinity and raise awareness of their message at scale."
One thing that's not immediately clear, though, is what right brands will have to use the content that is created using their stickers, or if they will they be able to use them for in their own promotional materials.
Here's what this will look like. Users will be able to take a photo, then choose branded stickers, attach them anywhere on their photo and then share it:
Twitter has already had its first partner in Pepsi, a brand that was probably pretty easy for them to get, given that Twitter added Hugh Johnston, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo, to its board of directors in April.
Perhaps that's why Pepsi also seems to be getting some preferential treatment: while Twitter states that brands are normally able to design four or eight promoted stickers, Pepsi is actually designing 50 of them, which will be launched in 10 different unspecified markets.
The partnership between Twitter and Pepsi also includes a custom Niche creator campaign showing consumers how to use their stickers, as well as branded Pepsi emoji and a Promoted Trend.
Since their launch, Twitter says that "millions of photos" have been Tweeted using stickers.
The real question going forward is just how much money Twitter can actually make from stickers. Perhaps the best way to figure that out is to look at another company that has similarly monetized stickers: Japanese mobile messaging app Line.
The company, which just had its IPO last month, revealed in a document with the SEC that it made JPY 28,725 million, or $284 million, from stickers alone in 2015.
While Line offers Sponsored Stickers, which are similar to Twitter's promoted stickers, it also makes money from users who pay for stickers, even letting its own users create and sell them. Twitter doesn't currently make money from the stickers themselves, and Line doesn't break out how much revenue came from each of those streams.
That means Line isn't a perfect analogy for Twitter, but it still shows that there is the potential for Twitter to make a good profit from this feature.
VatorNews has reached out to Twitter for further comment. We will update this story if we learn more.