Twitter Promoted Tweets to Enter User Streams

Written by Nick Stamoulis

If you’ve seen The Social Network you may remember an exchange between Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg about monetizing the site. Eduardo believes that it’s time to start generating some revenue and Mark replies, “The Facebook is cool and if we start installing pop-ups for Mountain Dew it’s not gonna be cool.” Who knows if this exact exchange even took place, but what we do know is that Mark changed his mind. While Facebook users might not see pop-up ads for Mountain Dew they are certainly inundated with advertisements, sometimes without even realizing it. That’s just how smart (sneaky?) Mark and his staff over at Facebook are.

The other social media big shot, Twitter, was faced with the same challenge. How do you monetize the website without losing the “cool” factor? A little over a year ago Twitter launched “promoted tweets” that began appearing at the top of searches conducted on the website. They also incorporated promoted trends and promoted accounts into the Twitter experience. Twitter will now be taking its next big step towards bigger dollar signs.

According to Wired:
“Twitter will soon follow up its promoted trends, accounts and search results with the biggest advertisement push yet: promoted tweets in your stream. If advertisers pay enough you could see 140 character bursts from accounts you do not follow, appearing among the banal babbling of your friends and co-workers.”

A comparison could be made to paid search results vs. organic search results, however there is one big difference. Whereas paid search results are located in a different location on the page (on the side, at the top) than the organic results, promoted tweets show up right along with the rest of the content in your feed. Eye tracking studies have shown that the majority of search engine users pay the most attention to organic results, but that’s because there is a clear distinction between organic and paid. If a promoted tweet is located right between a tweet from your best friend and a tweet from your favorite celebrity, you’ll take notice. However, you might also be annoyed.

In the comments section of the Wired article, “SpottedMarly” wrote, “The moment I see an advertisement mixed into my tweets I am closing my Twitter account. I know, no big threat to Twitter, losing me .. just stating a fact is all.” To which “therantguy” responded, “I’m with you…I like Twitter but the second I start seeing ads in my stream, I’m done with the service…” “iPan Baal” simply stated, “Bad idea.”

Promoted tweets in user streams can provide big opportunities for advertisers, but the question is: will Twitter users even stick around to notice?

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