Twitter Inc will begin allowing advertisers to directly target users
based on the interests they reveal in their tweets, the social media
company said Thursday.
No longer content to be a "dumb" bulletin
board, with 400 million micro-messages posted daily, Twitter has moved
to a strategy of actively sifting through what each user is reading and
tweeting in order to discern every individual's interests.
in 2006, Twitter is hoping to catch up to other consumer Internet
companies that have found varying degrees of success by using technology
to serve better-targeted ads.
For years, Google has reaped huge profits by displaying ads based on what a user searches for in its search engine, while Facebook
encourages users to proactively input their "likes." But Twitter, by
contrast, has long faced the challenge of indirectly inferring these
preferences, something that marketers find less attractive for their
In an effort to draw advertisers, the
company on Thursday also slashed the minimum price of "promoted tweets"
from 50 cents each to just a penny.
CEO Dick Costolo has said in
recent months that his company's value lies in its ability to mine its
flow of information to build "an interest graph" showing its users'
preference profiles -- which could be used by marketers to deliver
targeted and relevant ads.
As part of its new targeting feature,
Twitter will now allow advertisers to send paid ads, in the form of
tweets, to users who are interested in any of the roughly 350 topics on a
list curated by Twitter itself.
For instance, sports apparel
retailers can target soccer fanatics for promotions, or film
distributors might send tweets directed at keen Bollywood fans.
new offering will allow companies to reach a "very narrow, very
specific and incredibly focused audience," Kevin Weil, a Twitter
director of product management, said in an interview.
engineers believe they can build a compelling ad delivery platform,
particularly if marketers craft ads that seem to blend in with the tone
and format of the service's flow of tweets, which are seen by some 140
million monthly active users.
In building its interest graph,
Twitter analyzes "a host of signals," Weil said, including which
accounts a user follows, as well as the subjects of tweets that are most
frequently recirculated or replied to by the user.
The company's algorithms closely evaluate the latter, giving "a direct measure of what you're interested in," Weil said.
1 and 3 percent of users who see a "promoted tweet" - a paid ad -
click on the tweet in some way. But early beta tests have shown the
engagement rate to be higher when tweets are directed using its new
interest-targeting tool, Weil said, while declining to discuss specific
Slashing the minimum bid price for ads would allow more
brands to participate in its ad program but it did not reflect a lack of
demand from advertisers for ads on the platform, Twitter said.
at more than $8 billion but expected by analysts to make less than $300
million in revenue in 2011, Twitter has aggressively ramped up its
advertising capabilities. But in streamlining its product to better show
ads, the company has cracked down on how third-party services may use
its content, sparking an outcry from Silicon Valley technologists who
would like Twitter to remain a neutral media platform.
against what they viewed as a Twitter experience increasingly corrupted
by advertising, software developers in California this month launched
App.net, a Twitter-like rival that is supported by a $50 membership fee
rather than ads.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012