Twitter is coming of age.
After giving hundreds of thousands of businesses a free way to connect with customers, the self-serve ad platform it announced today will allow it to make money off companies already valuable Twitter presence.
Twitter’s revenue is sure to scale quickly once it opens its service to 10,000 American Expresssmall businesses next month and then to anyone with a credit card later this year. But CEO Dick Costolo tells me small businesses are just one new source of Twitter’s revenue.
Costolo calls 2012 “The Twitter Election.” For the first time Twitter is taking political ads. And a contentious and drawn-out Republican primary is working to Twitter’s benefit. Costolo says every major candidate is both Tweeting and buying ads. That’s not all—Twitter functions as a real-time feedback loop, a digital focus group of sorts, which candidates on both sides of the aisle are embracing as a direct line of communication to voters.