Home Twitter’s New Ads Are Smart Like Google Adwords

Twitter’s New Ads Are Smart Like Google Adwords

How do you leverage an attention economy in a newsfeed world? If you’re a brand on Twitter, you can now pay to give your Tweets privileged placement in the streams of your followers.

Twitter has long promised that when advertisements came to the stream, they would be served up in an interesting way. Indeed they have. Now, no matter what all your Twitter buddies are chattering about, no matter what time of night or day you open up Twitter.com and look at your stream of Tweets, any participating brands you follow (Groupon, Starbucks, Best Western, etc.) will have their most recent Tweets conveniently placed at the top of your page. For a fee, which helps Twitter bring home the bacon and keeps all the Tweets flowing. I like it. I think the parallels between this and Google’s advertising products are meaningful.

“You follow brands you like,” says Twitter’s Carolyn Penner, in a Tweet. “You want to see their tweets, announcements, and offers. We’re making sure you do. Simple.”

Those Tweets will then scroll down the page just like any other Tweets, but they will always start at the top. I think that’s a really non-invasive way to do it and strategy that really leverages the unique qualities of Twitter.

“This isn’t the equivalent of Google’s AdWords, which was Twitter’s original intention when it started its ad platform a year ago,” writes AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka, probably the tech news blogger following Twitter advertising the closest. “But Twitter may not need that kind of magic bullet to make this thing work – Facebook hasn’t found one, and things are working out ok over there.”

It may not be a magic bullet, but I think these promoted Tweets do have something in common with AdWords.

On Google, you’re searching for something and AdWords collects a fee for helping advertisers offer themselves up as the answer to your query. The program helps you find what you’re looking for, in theory.

Similarly, on Twitter – you’re looking for quick, timely updates from people and organizations of interest to you. These new Twitter ads help advertisers be a part of how you fill that need. In both cases, the ads are sponsored versions of what you came for, riding along with all the naturally occurring alternatives.

I expect it will work well. Will the company ever start serving up ads from branded accounts it believes you are likely to be interested in (and who pay for it)? Maybe. The relationship between promoted Tweets in search, in the stream and promoted accounts will be interesting to watch.

Presumably some brands will buy followers with the Cost Per Action promoted accounts, then buy privileged placement for their Tweets, too. Will people who buy followers that way start questioning the value of those followers without their Tweets starting out pinned at the top of the feed? I suspect they may.

The future is here, it’s being Tweeted and now there’s pre-roll. Keep it under 140 characters and I find it hard to object. It looks like a very smart system to me.

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