Four years have now passed since the launch of Twitter – its massive worldwide impact pretty impossible to ignore. Since its launch, the question of integrated advertising has always hung over its head. Is there money to be made from micro-blogging?
As of April this year, apparently yes. Twitter revealed a plan to launch “Promoted Tweets”, a service for businesses to highlight ordinary tweets to a wider audience than just their followers. The first phase comprised of promoted tweets appearing at the top of Twitter search results and within user feeds on both Twitter.com and third party clients accessing the service, eg: Tweetie, Twhirl, TweetDeck and TwitterBerry – the first ever was to promote Toy Story 3’s release.
Twitter’s version of keyword ads initially only appeared on searches within their own site, though we will start to see more ads at the top of SERPs too, following a cash deal with Google and Bing. Further development and subsequent ‘phases’ depend on the reception to Promoted Tweets, as a statement from the Twitter blog explains:
“Before we roll out more phases, we want to get a better understanding of the resonance of Promoted Tweets, user experience and advertiser value. Once this is done, we plan to allow Promoted Tweets to be shown by Twitter clients and other ecosystem partners and to expand beyond Twitter search, including displaying relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.”
The technique claims to be more organic than traditional search advertising, since the Promoted Tweets are still, organically produced Tweets, and their very survival depends on the reaction from other Twitter users – if an ad is not Retweeted, replied to or favourited, it disappears from the search results. The rules for a Promoted Tweet state that it must “resonate” with users, to encourage communication and sharing of the information – a basic ethos of the Twitter brand.
Twitter’s first advertising partners include Starbucks, Bravo and Virgin America – all companies who are heavily using Twitter as a conversation package for their customers and clients. Twitter’s chief operating office Dick Costolo, who is one of the speakers from Ad Age’s Digital said: “We wanted to do something that just enhances the conversation that companies are already having with their customers on Twitter.”
Twitter is not the first company to try and build an advertising model around search results via Twitter. Bill Gross, a search ad pioneer, also rebuilt a structure of promoting companies, by buying keywords for their own tweets with TweetUp. But it seems Twitters quest of integrity has led them – just 2 months after launching their own ad platform – to banning other ad networks, such as Ad.ly, from posting “in-stream” ads. Twitter defends Promoted Tweets as a non-invasive method of sponsored advertising that is partially controlled by users which should not interrupt conversations. According to blog posts from both Ad.ly and TweetUp, business is continuing as usual, the companies claiming that the way they operate does not infringe on the new Twitter regulations, though certainly some tweaking is to be expected.
Advertisers wanting to use Promoted Tweets (a very select, elite group to begin with) will start off by purchasing keywords on a per-thousand cost basis. For now that is how it stands, however, developing the performance of Twitter ads and their pricing will be based on a metric called “resonance”. This will provide extra impact on the Tweets that are Retweeted, replied to or marked as a favorite, and is based on the quantity of user clicks through posted links.
Differing to the way Google, Bing and other search engine’s structure their site, Twitter will only provide one ad at any given time. Users will be able to use these ads to start conversations and Twitter claims companies will be able to provide a better service for their customers.
Promoted Tweets will give companies benefits which are not given from other sources within the web:
- A data feed on search engines, enabling viewers to scroll through previous and subsequent Tweets within the advertisement
- Indexing real time search available on professional accounts
- Professional accounts will also have the option of setting up multiple accounts from one user
- A dashboard which follows what’s happening with brands and their Promoted Tweets
The true value of Twitter Ads is not yet known, but this is certainly an area which Ikroh will be monitoring closely to get a better idea, and see just how beneficial results can be.