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Twitter's strategy around monetization can be summed up in three words: "take it slow."

Thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, Twitter has been able to do something many digital media upstarts can't: explore new ad models at what often seems like a snail's pace, working primarily with a select number of brand advertisers and agencies.

From Promoted Trends to Promoted Tweets, the company has been somewhat creative in how it monetizes its impressive audience. After all, it could have easily taken a more aggressive approach, tossing up ads at the expense of the user experience.

But it does appear that Twitter is getting comfortable enough with its Promoted ad offerings it has developed to finally put advertisers in the driver's seat.

As reported by AllThingsDigital's Peter Kafka, Twitter is allowing some of its advertisers to set up their own ad campaigns:

It’s still just in test mode, and only open to a handful of advertisers. But those who can use it can now buy ads directly via Twitter, using a credit card and a Web browser, without ever having to talk to a human being.

Right now buyers can only purchase some of Twitter’s ad products — specifically “promoted accounts” and “promoted tweets” — but Twitter says that will expand over time, as it rolls out self-serve to more buyers.

As Kafka notes, a self-serve ad offering has reportedly been in the works for a while, but now that one is actually in the wild and confirmed by Twitter, it signals a new phase in Twitter's evolution.

Although much has been made in the past about non-advertising based business models Twitter could adopt, it's quite clear that the company is going to rely heavily, if not primarily, on ads. And the only way it's realistically going to sell enough of them to live up to the expectations of its investors is to allow advertisers to buy them in a self-serve fashion.

The big question now is whether those advertisers, left to their own devices, will be able to turn their Twitter ad buys into ROI. Earlier this year, several reports had marketers calling into question the efficacy of Twitter's ads.

If Twitter's self-serve offering is to thrive, a la, say, Google AdWords, it will need to make sure that its advertisers have good reason to keep serving themselves.

Patricio Robles

Published 2 December, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2419 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Steve Matthews, Marketing Account Manager at UCAS

Can't wait. I think because Twitter have been so careful in the past, and because Twitter users may revolt against bad/badly targetted advertising invading their space, advertisers are going to need to be extremely creative and clever in it's use in order to succeed.

Let's make an marketers pact to only submit ads that are interesting and highly targeted.

Another challenging self-serve ad channel - bring it on.

almost 5 years ago


David Rozansky

There is a danger to this. To make the self-serve ads work Twitter will have to do what Amazon did: prohibit self-promotion in the general tweet stream. This would be nearly impossible. Why pay for an ad when you can just tweet your 140-character message? And why pay for a promotional hashtag trend if your competitors are just going to hijack it?

It is not conducive for a platform that engages in open conversation to incorporate ads. The nastiness that the publishers and vendors feel towards Amazon since Amazon started a policy of deleting all self-promotional messages on conversations about books means that for the most part, readers can no longer have open discussions with the authors they enjoy reading, resulting in a less involved experience on a site that deals with books. But Amazon insists that authors and publishers who provide the books instead buy advertising, which they resist doing.

And on Twitter, a site that deals with open global instant communication, either Twitter must reduce its product's value by putting a throttle on the free expression found there (and I cannot say how that could even be policed), or it can only offer ad space that will be nearly worthless in the face of "free" expression. Why pay to graffiti your ad on a wall when you can do it yourself for free?

David Rozansky
Publisher, Flying Pen Press
Author of the forthcoming book, Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book
and Author's Business Manager.

Find me on Twitter at @DavidRozansky

almost 5 years ago

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