This post was updated at 9:08 a.m. PDT to reflect the fact that Twitter has denied that it was testing advertisements.
If an ad shows up in a Twitter feed and no one's awake to see it, did it really appear?
Reports surfaced overnight on Monday that advertisements were appearing sporadically in some of the micro-messaging service's Web-based streams, suggesting that perhaps Twitter may be close to losing its punchline status as the Silicon Valley darling that hasn't earned a dime yet. A handful of blogs wrote about it, but it seems like most Twitter users have yet to see them. I didn't see any, but descriptions seem to indicate that they're interspersed in a user's friend-list feed much like the advertisements in Facebook's News Feed.
Twitter has denied that these were advertisements, suggesting that the blog tipsters were mistaken in the first place.
We had a false alarm with Twitter ads once before, when entrepreneur and blogger Charlie O'Donnell noted that "Twitter Tips" were appearing in the whitespace of mobile posts that were shorter than the 140-character maximum. He speculated that they were perhaps a test for advertisements, but nothing has come out of it.
Either way, given the economic climate these days, it's about time Twitter made a buck or two. Third-party clients using the service's API, like Twitterrific, are already pulling in ad revenues, and the tech industry nerd-herd is already addicted enough so that they probably wouldn't jump ship if a few ads appeared here and there.