Dude, there’s an ad in my MetroTwit

It wasn’t that long ago the pixels were inside Photoshop.

Moments ago, we’ve just pushed out the 30th update to MetroTwit which among many bug fixes also adds 140proof integration. Similar to Echofon on Mac and UberSocial on Blackberry, we’re now serving a single user-tailored advertisement in the client.

As most of you may know, we (David Golden, Winston Pang and I) currently develop MetroTwit on a casual basis because we’re passionate about creating fun, usable and well-designed software experience.

We’re experimenting with this ad-supported model because we wanted to maintain the ability for anyone to want to freely try our software and at the same time build incentives for us to deliver even more, quicker. At the same time, working within the bounds of Twitter’s terms of service.

It’s not our intention to annoy anyone so we’ve even made it very easy for users to hide the ad in 45 minute blocks (clarification: you can hide it for unlimited number of times). We did this because 140proof wisely serves ads based on interests gathered from the tweet stream, which means there might actually be something of interest. Of course we look forward to feedback on all this.

Having said that, we know we’re far from perfect. We have many issues, largely tied to the performance of WPF, yet to resolve, and many useful features to add like multi-account support and streaming. Unfortunately, as independent and hobby developers (without multimillion dollar funding), these things take much longer than some would like, including myself.

We understand you have a plethora of choices with Twitter clients and I would understand if some of you may want to switch. If you’re interested in another Metro-inspired Twitter client, check out the open source MahTweets project by a fellow Aussie.

I appreciate all the support we’ve received in the past 9 months and look forward to continuing refining our vision for the Windows Twitter client you’ll love to use.

Update: The popular response has been that users want a paid ad-free version which we are of course seriously considering. Just to make it clear, this is the type of feedback we were after in the first place. It was our intention to hear the most important people, our users, what they wanted given the context of the situation and we’re getting lots of interesting responses.

67 insightful thoughts

  1. Ad supported? Uninstalling now. Maybe get the product fully working before expecting us to put up with ads….

    1. What is sad is that you seem to have no concept how much time and effort a project like this takes. The programmers have lives and families.

      1. To be frank, developing MetroTwit isn’t a burden. Even without any revenue, we have a lot of fun with it and it cheers us up seeing people use it. We do however want to take it even further and that’s where ad comes in.

  2. Metrotwit is one of my favourite pieces of software and has only gotten better, so many ads ruin programs but I think this one fits in nicely judging by the screenshot. I look forward to upgrading my computers when I get home :-)

  3. Any chance you can make available an ad-free version ala purchase? I wouldn’t mind paying 10 dollars for this if that supports the developers and gets rid of the ads. :)

    1. Yeah we’re going to be considering all options based on feedback, including removing the ad. We didn’t want to choose a path without seeing what users think.

  4. I’m a huge MetroTwit user and I have to be honest, I don’t like ads. But, I’m also a developer and I understand the hard work that exists behind an application.
    I’ll provide you feedback as soon as I install the new update on how the ads are (or aren’t) influencing the experience.

  5. I completely understand the rationale for a change like this. It’s completely legit! I think there are a lot of folks, myself included, who would GLADLY pay money for Metrotwit to do away with the ads, though. Metrotwit is a great piece of software and you guys should be compensated in some way. A payment option might help.

    Just a thought. Cheers and keep up the good work!

  6. I’ll second the paid, ad-free version. I use MetroTwit enough that I wouldn’t mind paying $10-20 for this ($10 / year maybe?) to get rid of the ads.

  7. MetroTwit is a good application. While not my favorite Twitter client (yet… I have no doubt you’ll definitely make it into a force to be reckoned with!), I know that ads were an inevitability. If it helps you make some money off the program you’ve put time into developing and they don’t detract from the usage experience, why not? I’d still love to see a real-time version of the software but I know such updates take time. Good luck and I hope you continue to maintain the excellent product you have created!

  8. I agree with the above commenters: please provide a way to pay or donate to remove the ads; I’d gladly do so. Also, if you’re going to start monetizing MetroTwit, can you please please please sign your installer?

  9. I don’t mind the addition of the ad – it doesn’t seem to be intrusive and some of them are relevant to me too!

    As others have said, a payment option would allay concerns from those who hate ads altogether.

    To me, MetroTwit is excellent. In fact, I think Microsoft should pay you guys in order to become part of the Windows Live Essentials suite. It really is that good.

  10. Long,

    You can’t listen to users about things like this, they will always cry foul play! But when it comes down to it, they wouldn’t work for free, so why should you? Most people have no idea, it may be fun, why do it if its not. But it still takes time out of your day, and you ‘should’ get something out of that! IMO I would put up a donation button, so we can offer donations to you at will. This works well for several reasons, first being the cheapo’s like ‘Oh Dear’ for instance will download it for free and never offer you a donation as expected. Secondly the people who really appreciate the application and understand your sacrifice will gladly offer you donations. Its a win-win situation, and will most likely bring in more profits than ads ever would…Also ads are not well received on the desktop, it seems to only work on Mobile and Web!

    1. Thanks Eric. Although it might be true in most cases the herd mentality might not be in the best interest, I think because I thoroughly explained the situation people should have a more practical response to it and most people have shown that.

      Thanks for the suggestions as well. All will be considered :)

  11. I don’t get why people are so harsh with the ads. They are all over the place, we have them every day in the TV, in every newspaper, we even buy some magazines for the ads, we publish our favourites ads in Youtube, they run our favourite search engine. We can access all kind of free services because the ads.

    I really don’t get it. Bring them on, I have no problem ignoring them.

  12. If we flattr the app every month, can we remove the ad?

    Check-out flattr.com, this can be great to solve this issue :)

  13. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve actually experienced the ads, but I generally avoid ad-supported software if an ad-free alternative is available at a reasonable price (and with equivalent features). I didn’t mind shelling out a few bucks for Twitterrific on the iPhone, and I wouldn’t mind paying for MetroTwit either.

  14. Hi Longzheng, I like the new idea of putting ads in your Metrotwit, it helps me a lot for finding new people and twitter. It may also annoy someone. But MetroTwit is an awesome App. one of my best softwares . The ads thing will definitely help the new Twitters for finding people on Twitter.com. Thanks 2 u and ur team for making such a Great App for Twitter. I hope This will be available for WM7 or Other Platform.

  15. Like the others I would gladly pay for Metrotwit. I won’t lie to you, the principal reason to not use metrotwit as my principal Twitter client is the lack of support for tweet streaming.

  16. It amazes me how many people are put off by an unobtrusive ad. Let alone one you can hide for some time. I was impressed you could hide it at all let alone 45 minutes.

    Anyway I think well done ads are better in the long run because the developers only get money if people use the app. Nobody uses the app, no money, and that helps prevent abandonware. Take for example what happened to twitter clients when the login stuff changed. Some apps took forever to be updated, and they would have likely been updated a lot sooner if their income had suddenly screetched to a halt.

    And I’m not saying that an option to pay to remove ads is a bad idea either. A yearly subscription, for instance, would fall nicely in the middle between continual ad revenue and the buy-it-once model.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  17. Generally speaking I don’t mind ads as long as they don’t get in the way. Unfortunately that is what they do end up doing though. They end up getting in the way of the experience and feel like something forced. I’ve used a few ad-supported items in the past without issue and it looks like you managed to seamlessly integrate it into your app.

    P.S. – I don’t use Metrotwit. I use Trillian because that one gets all my media streams but yours looks cool too.

  18. That was really bad decision and i really hope that youll rethink it again… MetroTwit is currently the best twitter client for Windows and i cant stand even little ad inside it (nor any program); wouldnt be much better to provide optional bank/paypal transfer as gratitude for your work? Or even Flatr support?

  19. After clicking four times on Hide ad, I have to recognize that I really don’t like it.

    I’m a developer too, I have a Windows Phone 7 and for me the Metro UI just doesn’t go with ads. I’d pay too. There are other ways to get some income with software and ads is IMO the last one to consider, even on mobile. It’s intrusive whatever you do, when software especially desktop software is trying to be pervasive!

    Thanks for fixing the scrolling issue.

  20. I use MetroTwit on and off. It has got a lot better but there is one thing that i just want and need:

    Single Column View Mode in a more compact mode than it now allows. Please Long, add one.

    Another nitpick would be cursor touch scrolling. I only have seen in done well in Blu and the now unreleased Blu2. But i liked it.

    Still many congrats on it. it is really good.

  21. Meh, it’s just ONE ad so I don’t mind. I do feel, however, downgraded by the fact MetroTwit still doesn’t support multi-accounts :/ It was great of you Long to mention that other Metro-based Twitter client; I’m gonna try that out to see how it stands compared to your app. 😀

  22. Just dropping in to +1 the idea of a paid, ad free version. Happy to go pay once or subscription, per year etc, unhappy to have ads displayed in the app.

    Thanks for the great app, appreciate your work, more than happy for you to monetize it – just not with my attention.

  23. Hello fellow MetroTwit supporters. I’m one of the developers on MetroTwit, and it has been interesting reading through everyones response towards our introduction of ads.

    I’d like to reiterate, we’re putting this ad idea out there first and gathering as much feedback as possible, who knows, we may revoke it, or as some have suggested a one off donation to permanently remove it.

    I hardly believe we’ll be millionaires overnight with just these ads, it will take a lot of users clicking through for a mamouth effect. Having said that, it may help with recouping for our hosting and code signing certificates. It definitely won’t enable us to quit from our day jobs.

    Just for a little insight on how hard we’re actually working. Myself and David Golden, both have full time jobs, typically I will be at work between 7am – 5pm, and that’s just being present at work, and not factoring in 3 hours of commuting back and forth, which leaves me with just approximately 10 hours in a day, of which I expend 3-4 hours towards sleeping, and the rest on developing MetroTwit, and likewise the same for David and Long.

    Just a little over 11 months, and we’ve created a great piece of software that a lot of users love using. The only thing that’s limiting us would probably be time, given that we all have full time jobs, could you possibly imagine the possibilities if we were developing MetroTwit full time? We would have taken over the world by now, I kid. But that aside, I truly believe we’ve done an extremely good job through our dedication.

    I hope people understand that, what initially drove us to developing MetroTwit was not money, rather it was a strong passion towards creating a perfect twitter client, that’s easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. We are aware that our client still has many shortcomings and missing features, but we’re actively listening to everyones feedback and trying to strike a balance.

    We believe that there’s an abundance of twitter clients on the market and good variety to choose from, so if you are not happy with the direction that we’re taking or the decisions we’re making, you are more than welcome to switch to another client, but please do not rule us out completely and give us another chance further down the track, to see if we have improved.

    If you’d like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes, feel free to contact me on twitter: http://twitter.com/winstonpang

    –Winston

    1. MetroTwit is a great piece of software. I understand the hard part of working on it “when you can”, like I do with my apps, like a lot of people are doing too. Not to minimize the amount of work, just to point out that well, it’s not an exception, a lot of people making free software are doing it on their free time.

      I respect that and I don’t ask for updates or you adding big features like multi-account because I know that’s a lot of work. I’m willing to pay, like I did many times with very useful shareware, to get a good app! Like it used to be: a limited free version and a paid full version. Don’t want to pay? Get another Twitter client.

      I just don’t get the ads model. I don’t get that people would love a service, know that it’s a lot of work, but instead of paying directly the developers are willing to trade their user experience and sell their attention on their desktop computer. I don’t want that. Please give me a choice :)

  24. While I like others find the ads annoying, I can understand why they are needed, especially with the signing etc.

    The way I use the app is to have it open all the time, and dip in and out, and I find the ad shows up more than once per session. If it showed up at first use only it wouldnt be a problem, but that may not be suitable for the advertisers.

    It could be a lot worse, so if it has to stay, I can probably live with it, Maybe a choice which column it appears in would be good, I could have it with my dm’s instead of on my timeline!

    1. Yeah that’s one of the more interesting feedback we’ve heard. Definitely looking into user-customized placement of ads.

  25. If you do go ahead with the ad approach, definitely add an ad-free/donation option for those of us that get annoyed by ads to the point of switching clients. You’ll be surprised how much people are willing to help out in order to keep a clean user interface.

    Personally, I won’t be letting my metrotwit update until this is sorted :).

  26. Suggestions.

    Maybe place an ad in the settings so its not in the way of the tweets.
    Make an ad as a pop up like when you get a new tweet. I don’t mind having ads as long as its not showing porn, or selling me products.
    Allow us to change the ad showing limit. Max is one every hour or 1 every 15 minutes. Depending on the person.
    Put a donation or even make a paid version that is just a couple of dollars.

    I am really thankful of this program and glad I am using it. I don’t care much of the other programs out there.

  27. To be honest, ads of any kind annoy me, and if there was a method to remove them (such as purchasing the software), I would more than likely take that route. That being said, you guys have created one of the most beautiful and functional Twitter clients available for the Windows platform, and for that, I am incredibly grateful. So I understand the rationale behind the ads and for that reason alone, I am more than happy to put up with it (until you guys figure out a way we can get rid of them). You guys deserve the praise and revenue from a project as awesome as this, and if it empowers you to continue to improve MetroTwit, then I’ll be right here waiting for each and every update.

    That being said, I don’t suppose you guys are considering a WP7 version of MetroTwit? Maybe something that sync’s with the desktop version? I’d kill for MetroTwit on my Windows Phone 7. And by kill I mean cough up some cash for it. =]

    – Tim / prjkthack

    1. This would have to be one of our most requested items. We do talk about doing one almost every month and at this stage thing there are some really great Twitter Apps already on WP7.

      That doesn’t mean we won’t change our mind down the track though. :) Especially if we can afford to make one.

  28. I want to try this real bad but I refuse to use anything that uses ClickOnce. Please create a downloadable full MSI installer. For those who have strong outgoing firewalls, unblocking ClickOnce-based MetroTwit setup is another issue.

  29. I wonder how a lot of the people here used to read newspapers. Did you just… glance at the front page headline briefly only to throw it away in disgust on the off chance of an advertisement defiling your precious retinas?

  30. As a developper I understand why you’d need ads!
    And I can clearly see feedback from users really matter to you!
    Personnally the ad doesn’t bother that much, maybe it will hep sink in with the other users if its integrated in the timelime like any other timeline item ?
    Appart from that, really great job on MetroTwit, I love it, the design itself is just addicting..
    Few missing things though but I’m sure they’re on their way 😉

  31. Oke, I understand the ads and I’m accepting them.
    But please let me select a column. The ads in my most important column (timeline) is limiting my view with 20% !!!
    I’d selected MetroTwit partly because I can show many tweets in a column (no fixed height).
    I won’t mind if it’s showing in my DM of any other column that don’t update that much. I even will let it stay there (not hiding it) and clicking it a couple of times to support the development.

  32. It’s a personal opinion but I hate the ad funded model. To 99% of your users the ad is irrelevant and hence is a downgrade in the usability of the app. I understand you need a revenue stream but I think ads are the easy way out and lead to a unpredictable revenues that you’re not in control of. There are too many people following the facebook model, get stacks of users then fill with advertising and try and make money, but not enough remember that facebook still doesn’t make a profit. Metrotwit is a great app with a great design, but like many of your users, I would have paid.

  33. The problem with ads or with donations is that from now on, users will perceive an higher value for the product. Especially with the donations! If I donate, then I expect more from the developers: the features I ask for, timely updates..
    So my question is: can this be delivered since Metrotwit is not the day job of any of the developers?
    I would happily donate to Metrotwit a few bucks, but I still can’t use it as it doesn’t have the features I need nor I have any way of knowing that they will ever be implemented. I have been burned before: after donating money to a developer that never since improved the software…

  34. don’t necessarily hate the ads. just hate the way they were implemented.
    I could live with an ad coming through as one of my tweets(Maybe with a different color so I would actually notice it) but the way it’s set up now I actually have to remove the ad to get to my latest tweet. Annoying!!!!!

    just implement it in a less annoying way and i’m fine with it.

  35. oh yeah. SUPER!!!! job on the twitter client. It’s looks nice and you have a great overview. Other clients try to do too much.

  36. When I used Twitter for Mac (Tweetie) it had both an ad supported model and a pay=no-ads model. I didn’t mind using the ad supported version because they had really good ads, I even clicked through and purchased many products that I wouldn’t have from those ads. If MetroTwit could find a way to have compelling ads listed in their app I’m sure the same would follow here. Either way, I don’t mind either looking at ads or paying for the app. It’s an excellent application and worth the developers getting paid to maintain it.

  37. David Golden forwarded me to this page, otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen it. The ads aren’t bad. A paid, no ad version would be cool, but not necessary. The ads aren’t intrusive. It’s a great Twitter client, so why not try to make a little money to keep doing it?

  38. This is a great little app. I love the look but if you think putting the ad at the very top of my screen where all the new tweets usually show up and making it stick there is unobtrusive then maybe we do not have the same definition of unobtrusive. I don’t have a problem with ads. But don’t put it in my stream of tweets. I keep reading it over and over going who is this person and then its like, oh wait its an ad. Also someone mentioned the ads are releveant to the stream content. really? Id like to see that because it absolutely has nothing to do with my intrests like at all. Maybe it just needs some time to read me better. Also a paid version would be great, but 15 dollars? Seriously? I know you’ve got a great product here, but that is rather rediculous. 5 bucks or 7 bucks is reasonable, 10 is pushing it but 15? that said my suggestions are these.

    Keep the ads, but if they must be static put them off to the side or at the bottom. Like the last viewable “tweet” on the stream, just above where I have to type. That honestly would not bother me. and 2 I know you’re in AUS.. but rethink your price. Its a bit steep. Otherwise, its a lovely app. The ads can stay but not stuck at the top of my stream. Trillian does ads, and they pop up in my chat stream every like 20 posts, That wouldn’t mind. Might try that, that way you could expose more ads, instead of just one, big looming one.

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