@CharlieSheen ‘s TwitPics Are Worth 1000 Words, But Are They Worth $1000?
Charlie Sheen has taken the public by storm in an unparalleled media blitz; his past 48 hours have been a media explosion – from daytime television to web news publications. Most recently, Sheen has been taking his #winning attitude to a mediator-free environment: Twitter.
For media outlets, there’s a clear economic incentive for those covering Sheen – he’s the hot commodity of the day, and people want to read and watch everything he’s involved in. Television shows that book him will get more viewers. Publications that cover the Sheen phenomenon will get more readers. But now that the Two and a Half Men star has taken the reins, there are fewer organizations making buck off of Charlie’s bang.
The company best poised to capitalize on Sheen’s move to social media would be TwitPic.com, a Twitter-based image sharing website founded in 2008 by Noah Everett. TwitPic.com – one of many photo sharing sites utilized by Twitter users – is clearly Sheen’s service of choice; it has been the medium for six of Sheen’s eleven tweets at press time. Sheen’s first photograph – which features the actor posing with chocolate milk, a Naked juice bottle, and a porn star – has racked up 1.2 million views in less than 24 hours. By contrast, one of TwitPic.com’s most recognizable photos, of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, has received only 656,000+ views in its considerably longer lifespan.
TwitPic, like most websites, earns its cash by serving ads. Each visitor to the site means a fraction of a penny – the higher the number of visitors, the higher the site’s revenues. In early 2010, Everett and TwitPic announced a goal of three to four million dollars in revenue, with a target profit margin of a whopping 70%.The site attracts between three and four million people each day, according to Quantcast.com. It is one of Alexa’s top 100 most visited websites in the United States.
So how much, exactly, is TwitPic making per page view served? And how is Charlie Sheen helping?
Federated Media, a publishing network that works with online advertisers and content producers, puts the CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) for TwitPic.com between $5.10 and $5.95. That number doesn’t paint a complete picture, though, since it only applies to premiere advertising campaigns. When a company is unable to sell an ad space to a specific commercial partner, they will often fill ad spaces with ads from a network such as Google’s AdWords; these leftover ads are known as remainder, or remnant advertisements. A techcrunch article from 2009 pinned the average price of remnant ads at $.26 – a considerably lower rate. Hypestat.com puts the overall average CPM rate for TwitPic.com at $3.33, which sounds like a reasonable rate, given that the site’s ads are likely a mixture of sold campaigns and remnant ad content.
So assuming the site is making somewhere in the ballpark of $3 per thousand page views, how much has TwitPic potentially brought in via its newest celebrity advocate? So far, Sheen’s six photos have racked up around 3.2 million page views. Some back-of-the-napkin math at a CPM of $3 gives us a total revenue number for those six photos at a little bit under $10,000, or around $1600 per picture. Sheen seems to have a way with words, but if the old adage is right, TwitPic shows that those words may only go for around $1.60 each.