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Twitter debuts sponsored tweets

April 14, 2010

Since Twitter’s launch four years ago, many have wondered whether the micro-blogging service could make money, and if so, how. As reports, Twitter might have answered both questions on Tuesday when it debuted “promoted tweets” that place ads on Twitter search results.

When users search for a topic on Twitter, a single ad will appear at the top of the results. The ad itself is a tweet that users can “re-tweet” to others, mark as a favorite or reply to, reports. Twitter’s first advertisers reportedly include Starbucks, Bravo and Virgin America. Marketers can use sponsored tweets to start conversations with customers.

Twitter recently said it handles 50 million tweets — messages with a maximum of 140 characters — a day. Dick Costolo, the company’s chief operating officer, didn’t say how many search queries Twitter gets, only that “a lot of people use Twitter for search; the volume is huge.”

Initially, Twitter advertisers will bid on keywords on a cost-per-thousand basis, but ultimately Costolo wants marketers to pay for ads based on their lift in “resonance” — how much the sponsored tweet is passed around, marked as a favorite or clicked through — over a standard tweet.  — Greg Beaubien


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