One of the beta testers is Clix Marketing Founder David Szetela, whose clients using the new ad platform include investor Guy Kawasaki, who's using the service to promote his forthcoming book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.
Update: According to Twitter spokesperson Matt Graves, what's described in the MediaPost story is not the company's new self-serve platform. "While we have previously discussed plans to offer a self-serve offering for advertisers in 2011, this isn't it," says Graves. Rather, this is part of the Promoted Products offering, and involves working with an in-house sales rep.
According to Szetela, advertisers must make a three month commitment to the new ad program, which lets advertisers create two types of campaigns: Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts.
According to the MediaPost description of the program, an advertiser selects interests and keywords relevant to the campaign. It's not exactly clear how some of the back-end works -- how it assesses ad placement or user engagement. But Szetela speculates that "It would make sense for Twitter to use engagement rates as a way to rank ads or choose the ones to display." What Szetela can say - and what makes sense in terms of the connections between user search and intent to purchase - is that the words advertisers set up in the keyword and interest fields will be used to trigger ads to match when those terms are entered into the Twitter search.
There are several ad payment options, based on Pay for impressions (CPM), Exclusive for daily Promoted Trends, and Pay for engagement events (CPE). And this new platform will also contain analytics information.
By adopting a self-service model, Twitter joins Facebook and Google AdWords in creating a system that makes it easy for advertisers to establish their campaign themselves and makes it easy (or easier) for Twitter to offer this sort of ad service without having to scale up its personnel to handle the requests.
Szetela says that Twitter plans to open up the ad platform to other beta users in February, which will be exactly once year since MediaPost reported that the Twitter ad platform was "imminent."
A recent report posited that Twitter would triple its ad revenue this year - to $150 million. A successful self-serve ad platform would go a long way to boost those numbers.