July 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM ET
Over the next several weeks, Twitter will begin rolling out and testing paid ads in-stream, placing the "Promoted Tweets" at the top of users' streams.
Twitter purists who like their streams commercial free might not like it, but if they're already following a company, then it won't make much of a difference. It'll look like other tweets from those companies, since many already tweet out promos.
Honestly, it doesn't stand out or look any different from other tweets, does it?
These ads will come at or near the top of timelines, and users will be able to turn them off: "Promoted Tweets can also be easily dismissed from your timeline with a single click." They'll only appear once, so don't worry about the spam factor.
Twitter's initial rollout will happen over the next few weeks with these selected businesses that have partnered with the micro-blogging community: Best Western, Dell, Gatorade, Groupon, HBO, JetBlue, LivingSocial, Microsoft Xbox, Red Bull, Sephora, Starbucks, Summit Entertainment’s "50/50," TNT and Virgin America. Non-profits are also able to benefit from these types of tweets: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Room to Read and The American Red Cross; as well as charity: water and Water.org, two organizations that specialize in providing clean water to those who need it most in developing nations.
The paid ads will only show up in your stream if you're already following those companies who pay Twitter to elevate their profile.
The ads are part of Twitter's master plan to try to get some traction in its advertising revenue, which at an expected $100 million has so far not met the potential of the social network's 300 million registered users. In contrast, Facebook is expected to generate $3.5 billion in ad revenue from its 750 million and growing users.
Twitter’s head of global revenue, Adam Bain, spoke to TechCrunch and revealed some of the optimism that the company has in regards to these ads.
"It’s no secret that as Twitter has grown, companies have flocked to it," Bain says, noting that marketers and brands have been there since practically day one. "We’ve found that 20 to 40 percent of users follow one or more brands on Twitter," he continues, noting that this is extremely important (the stat is based on third-party research and is so wide because the definition of “brand” varies). "Users want to be updated when brands have updates or exclusive content."
Bain also told TechCrunch that the paid tweets won't just be filled with deals, but with "exclusive content."
No word on pricing yet, but it may be even more lucrative than the $100,000 companies already fork over to be at the top of the promoted Trends list.
Of course, there are bound to be those that won't like this one bit, not one bit at all.
Gizmodo has this to say about that:
Some pundits have argued that ads will disrupt the conversation, or otherwise break Twitter's flow. Have these people actually used Twitter? It's not a give and take, in which conversations flow along in a logical manner. It's more like a room full of people shouting random phrases, some of whom you choose to pay attention to. Twitter is built on non sequiturs. It's all din and spectacle.
So start looking for these ads. Does it bother you so much you'd stop using Twitter?