Twitter has been valued by investors at $1 billion without ever disclosing a plan to make money. Well, it finally announced one.
The company said on Tuesday it will begin testing “Promoted Tweets” that advertisers can buy. They’ll first start showing up in searches and – eventually – in user timelines.
“Over the years, we’ve resisted introducing a traditional Web advertising model because we wanted to optimize for value before profit,” Twitter founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. “Stubborn insistence on a slow and thoughtful approach to monetization—one which puts users first, amplifies existing value, and generates profit has frustrated some Twitter watchers.”
Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America are among the first advertisers Twitter signed on to test the concept.
“We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate,” Stone explained.
Promoted Tweets will be clearly labeled as "promoted" when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they will first exist as regular Tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand. Promoted Tweets will also retain all the functionality of a regular Tweet including replying, Retweeting, and favoriting. Only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on the search results page.
Since all Promoted Tweets are organic Tweets, there is not a single "ad" in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter. This is distinct from both traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising. Promoted Tweets will also be timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between you and a Promoted Tweet in real-time provides a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment.
There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.