Promoted Accounts next step in Twitter ads

Businesses pay for "Who to Follow" privilege, as Promoted Accounts joins Promoted Tweets and Trends

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
September 28, 2010
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Promoted AccountsA noisy microblogging site might not immediately seem like an advertiser’s best bet for reaching a large, relevant audience, but then, Silicon Valley is known for innovation.

That’s why Twitter is in the midst of testing a plethora of adverting ideas, including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends, and, now, Promoted Accounts.

The new advertising strategy, which COO Dick Costolo told a New York audience on Tuesday would be launching “very shortly,” will enable businesses to pay to be included in the “Who to Follow” sidebar. [Costolo will be speaking at Vator Splash on Thursday evening in San Francisco.]

Analogous to how Promoted Tweets, which appear in searches based on a specific query, and Promoted Trends, which appear in searches for trends, Promoted Accounts won’t recommend just any company to any random user. Instead, one can expect Twitter to pair brands with the users who, based on the “Who to Follow” algorithm, would be most likely to actually follow said brands.

“It’s still an experiment to figure out exactly how it works and we’re working with [advertisers] closely to make it work well,” said CEO Evan Williams in an interview. “But I think, from what people are telling us, they know that they need to be on Twitter because Twitter is where people are talking about what’s happening in the world.”

Twitter claims that advertising on the site has already proven several times more effective than standard display ads. Engagement with the site’s Promoted products (including clicks, replies, and retweets) currently averages around 5%, according to Costolo. With just over forty advertisers participating in Twitter’s advertising program at the moment, the services are still very much in the testing stages.

By 2011, however, Twitter hopes to have a couple hundred advertisers on board.

As we noted in a story yesterday concerning the site’s recent experiments in advertising, Twitter still has to prove to marketers that they’re paying for something that will actually be seen by a considerable number of engaged users, especially when Promoted Tweets are selling upwards of $100,000. At the same time, the site must strike a balance: if users start seeing the site they love flooded with irrelevant and insubstantial blocks of advertising noise, Twitter could lose its appeal.

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