Twitter's New Ad Platform & What It Means for Small Business

May 5, 2010

By Dan Nieves

Twitter’s long awaited advertising platform finally rolled out a couple weeks ago. According to Twitter, “Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets that businesses and organizations want to highlight to a wider group of users.”  Here is an example of what users will see:

Promoted Tweets will have started to appear at the top of Twitter search results.  According to the NY Times, "the ads will let businesses insert themselves into the stream of real-time conversation on Twitter to ensure their posts do not get buried in the flow." Initially, Promoted Tweets will be found in search results, but will eventually be integrated into and third-party applications as well such as TweetDeck.

How It Works

Companies will have the chance to bid on certain keywords and when a user searches for a word an organization has purchased, the Promoted Tweet will appear at the top of the results, even if not the most current tweet. In the initial phase, cost will be incurred per thousand people who see the Promoted Tweet.

How to Measure Success

Twitter will measure resonance, which will look at 9 factors, for example the number of people who viewed the post, number of people who replied/retweeted/etc, and the number of people who clicked on any links in the post. Interestingly enough, if a tweet does not reach a certain resonance level, it will no longer be shown as a Promoted Tweet. Consequently, the organization would not have to pay for the tweet and users will only see ads that will be useful to them.

What Does it Mean for Small Business

Well for one, it is a great way to let customers know what is going on right now, whether it be a sale, promotion or some other special event. If a small biz could lock up certain keywords associated with its business, it could level the playing field when it comes to brand awareness and marketing. For example, an IT company in the domain name business might look to bid on keywords such as "domain" or "domain name."

Also, it is a step further in customer engagement and the new advertising platform provides an additional avenue to converse with customers. The Promoted Tweets will have the same functions as regular tweets (i.e. retweeting and favoriting), which benefits the advertiser as followers can spread the word. If small businesses can capitalize on this new feature, it could be an additional means of marketing and advertising as fellow tweeters could pass the word along and create a greater buzz.

The new ad platform also provides a cost efficient means of advertising and creating buzz. Rather than sending out direct mail, email blasts or online advertisements, which can be costly and ineffective, Twitter's new platform has the ability to "self monitor." As stated earlier in the post, Twitter will measure resonance and if a tweet does not reach a desired resonance level, it will no longer be shown as a Promoted Tweet. How does this help the business user? Well, two ways:

  • It is a much more cost effective means of advertising, a biz user would only pay for the tweet if it is not being shown as a Promoted Tweet
  • Furthermore, the relevancy factor is where the value add can come. Users will only see the ads that will be useful to them, so it is a great way for the small biz user to hone their ads for their desired niche rather than just mass mailing.

It will be very interesting to see where this new platform will go and what Twitter will roll out in the next phases!