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Twitter adds ads, but not as we had expected…

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
14 April 2010

The savvy-thinkers over at Twitter finally made a much-anticipated announcement this week – that they’re finally ready to allow advertising on their website. Industry pundits have been speculating for over a year now on how Twitter will turn their increasingly-popular service in to a bonefide revenue-generator, and with this announcement it seems like they might finally be heading in the right direction. But whilst speculation has mainly centred around ‘sponsored tweets’ randomly inserted in to people’s feeds, more traditional banner ads or even a freemium/premium model, the new announcement is a bit of a curve ball…

Advertisers will be able to buy ‘promotional tweets’ which will appear at the top of the twitter SEARCH page – and (currently) on that page alone. Here’s how Twitter’s Biz Stone explained the plan on the official Twitter blog:

We are launching the first phase of our Promoted Tweets platform with a handful of innovative advertising partners that include Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America—with more to come. Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets that businesses and organizations want to highlight to a wider group of users.

He added:

There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

The official blog included a mock-up of what a promoted tweet will look like, giving the example of a user who has searched for the term ‘starbucks’ – no word yet on whether the ad’s appearance will be limited to their own branded keywords, or whether a Starbucks ad might (for instance) appear at the top of a search for “Costa” or even “Coffee”…

promoted-tweet

Reaction to the news has been as you’d expect – users bemoaning the ‘end of Twitter’ and advertisers rubbing their hands in glee. The announcement has presumably been timed to coincide with the first ever official Twitter developer conference, ‘Chirp‘, which is taking place today – a conference where Twitter have promised to give more details about the roll-out. Only time will tell how users actually react to this – Twitter have promised that whilst they have plans for more wide-scale advertising roll-outs, they’re going to watch closely to see how the first phase is accepted before they do. As usual, only time will tell…

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