Twitter Promotes Advertising Tweets In Its Timeline

Twitter is testing non-intrusive advertising with Promoted Tweets in its timelines, bringing paid ads to its 175 million users

Twitter has extended its Promoted Tweets feature to its timelines, exposing paid advertisements to more of the microblog’s 175 million users. Promoted Tweets let advertisers such as Starbucks pay $100,000 to push their products in searches and trending topics. The ads started in searches on and extended to searches executed through Twitter partners.

By targeting the timeline, Twitter is targeting the most visible section of the microblog. That means the company is being very careful about the rollout, tapping HootSuite, a specialist in using social media for publicity campaigns, to help with this test.

“Not all HootSuite users will see Promoted Tweets and those who do may see different Promoted Tweets in different places in their timeline,” Twitter said. “As with Promoted Tweets in search, we will display Promoted Tweets in the timeline when they are relevant.”

Tweeted Products Plucked For Promotion

If a user tweets about certain products, chances are good they will see a Promoted Tweet in their timeline for that product.

“You’ll see Promoted Tweets which closely match your interests – or you won’t see them at all,” said HootSuite community director Dave Olson.

That should be comforting for Twitter users put off by Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts, which launched in October as a way for companies to buy ads to promote their Twitter accounts which, in turn, hawk goods and services.

Though the ads are fairly unobtrusive now, certainly no more obvious than the search ads to the right of Google or Bing search results, some people will be irked by the increasing prevalence of ads in any online service previously devoid of them. Introducing ads to a service with millions of users is always a tricky balancing act. Companies need to make money from the ads – but not at the cost of losing the users that brought them to that monetisation threshold.

Yet Twitter claimed users have “engaged with Promoted Products on Twitter at rates that far exceed typical forms of online advertising“.

Good news for tyhe advertisers is thatTwitter’s user base is growing and may pass 200 million users by the end of 2010 – if it continues adding them at the current rate of 370,000 a day. The calculation comes courtesy of an article in The New York Times, which pegged the microblogging Website’s current user base at 175 million.

With 60 days left in 2010, it puts Twitter on track to reach 197.5 million users by the end of the year bit it may even pass the 200 million mark, given the natural fluctuations in people joining and leaving.