June 24, 2011 at 11:36 AM ET
Companies and organizations willing to shell out the big bucks to promote their products and messages via a prominent place on the trends list will now be able to see their paid tweets appearing in the streams of millions of Twitter users.
In development for a long time, the intrusion of ads into tweets users choose to follow is one way Twitter can generate more revenue.
Twitter head of revenue, Adam Bain, is making the rounds at the Cannes Lions advertising extravaganza this week, meeting with mad men and women who could help make the most of the social network's 300 million registered users (although only about 20 million are truly active tweeting, the rest passively follow or just go through the motions).
The Financial Times' Tim Bradshaw, who is covering the Cannes event, cited those "familiar with the situation" for the latest news that promoted tweets would start appearing in main timelines, something tested by Twitter through a third-party mobile app, Hootsuite.
Twitter already allows for promoted tweets to show up when users search for related or similar terms, something Gmail users are already familiar with, but this would insert the tweets even without those searches.
Bradshaw shared this tidbit, too: "Users could also see tweets from a brand they follow appear high up in their stream even though they were posted hours previously."
Will this push for more advertising cause a revolt with Twitter's users? TechCrunch's Alexis Tsotsis thinks maybe, especially if Twitter gave users the ability to hide or eliminate it. Through an informal poll she conducted, she found that "despite the initial resistance many users were willing to support the in-stream ad model as long as Twitter gave them the opportunity to pay to get rid of it."
Our own Rosa Golijan has already written about how Twitter users turned against one attempt to control how it views its timeline, the Quickbar iPhone app.
Let's hope Twitter won't aggravate its users with these additions in its attempt to make more than $100,000 a pop with those promoted tweets and trends near the top. They're clearly motivated: Facebook's expected $3.5 billion in ad revenue eclipses Twitter's expected $100 million in ad revenue.