Twitter co-founder Biz Stone gave his take on the microblogging service’s new advertising model, Promoted Tweets, in a post on the Twitter Blog titled Hello World. Highlights follow:
Although our services extend beyond the Web, Twitter ranks as one of the most popular sites on the Internet. Over the years, we’ve resisted introducing a traditional Web-advertising model because we wanted to optimize for value before profit. The open exchange of information creates opportunities for individuals, organizations, and businesses alike. We recognized value in this exchange and planned to amplify it in a meaningful and relevant manner.
Stubborn insistence on a slow and thoughtful approach to monetization — one that puts users first, amplifies existing value, and generates profit — has frustrated some Twitter watchers. Believe me, when your name is Biz and you’re a co-founder of Twitter, it also means putting yourself at the mercy of folks like Stephen Colbert who hit home runs with lines like, “So, I assume that ‘Biz’ in ‘Biz Stone’ does not stand for ‘Business Model.'”
We are launching the first phase of our Promoted Tweets platform with a handful of innovative advertising partners that include Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America — with more to come. Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets that businesses and organizations want to highlight to a wider group of users.
You will start to see Tweets promoted by our partner advertisers called out at the top of some Twitter.com search results pages. We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate.
Promoted Tweets will be clearly labeled as “promoted” when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect, they will first exist as regular Tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand. Promoted Tweets will also retain all of the functionality of a regular Tweet including replying, retweeting, and favoriting. Only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on the search results page.
Before we roll out more phases, we want to get a better understanding of the resonance of Promoted Tweets, user experience, and advertiser value. Once this is done, we plan to allow Promoted Tweets to be shown by Twitter clients and other ecosystem partners and to expand beyond Twitter search, including displaying relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.
While we are excited about the platform in general, there are several specific aspects of the launch that we are delighted to highlight. Since all Promoted Tweets are organic Tweets, there is not a single “ad” in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter. This is distinct from both traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising. Promoted Tweets will also be timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between you and a Promoted Tweet in real-time provides a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment.
There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar — they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.