Twitter debuts 'Promoted Tweets' ad platform

Red Bull: has signed up with Promoted Tweets
Red Bull: has signed up with Promoted Tweets

LONDON - Twitter is launching its long-awaited advertising platform, Promoted Tweets, with big brands such as Sony Pictures, Red Bull and Virgin America becoming the first advertisers to sign up.

The micro-blogging site's new ad model will allow advertisers using Promoted Tweets to have their ads displayed at the top of some Twitter.com search results pages.

However, only one Promoted Tweet from advertisers, including other brand launch partners such as Best Buy, Bravo and Starbucks, will be displayed on the search results page.

While the Tweets will be labelled as ‘promoted' although it will first be sent as an organic tweet to users following that brand, if users don't interact with the ad then it won't be displayed again. Users will be able to interact with the Tweet by replying, retweeting, and favoriting.

Founder Biz Stone said he wants to gain better understanding of the resonance Promoted Tweets has among users and advertisers, before it rolls out a phase two of the platform.

He added: "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 [users] timelines in a way that is useful."

Until now, Twitter has resisted rolling out an ad-funded model, as it aimed to make the site more valuable before becoming profitable.

Stone recognises its slow approach to monetisation has frustrated some Twitter watchers. This has led to many businesses trying to monetise the popular site that attracted 4.2 million UK users in February, according to UKOM.

Yesterday (12 April), Bill Gross, the brains behind the original model for paid internet search, announced the launch of his start-up TweetUp, in an attempt to replicate the search model for Twitter.

The service, which has launched in beta for a month, has been the first business designed to monetise tweets through the same principle as search advertising.

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