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More Twitter Advertising Opportunities

  |  September 8, 2009   |  Comments

Three new tools for getting the most out of your Twitter ad campaign.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about "Integrating Twitter into Ad Campaigns." Twitter marketing is a subject near to my heart, as I'm writing a book on the topic. Suffice it to say, I'm tuned into Twitter goings-on.

According to a recently LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll that evaluates advertisers' impressions of Twitter, just under half of advertisers (45 percent) say that Twitter is in its infancy and its use will grow exponentially over the next few years. This differs from the consumer audience's impression: over two-thirds (69 percent) say they don't know enough about Twitter to have an opinion.

Other survey results reveal that, among those who have an opinion regarding Twitter, advertisers and consumers have moderate opinions about Twitter's effectiveness for promoting products and ideas. Of advertisers surveyed, only 8 percent say Twitter is very effective for promoting products and ideas, while 50 percent believe it's somewhat effective. Consumer figures are similar:

Twitter Effectiveness
Q. When it comes to promoting products and ideas, how effective do think Twitter is?
Advertisers (%) Adults (%)
Very effective 8 8
Somewhat effective 50 42
Not that effective 24 31
Not at all effective 8 19
Note: Percentages might not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Source: Harris Interactive Poll, 2009

If this is the belief, why do so many new Twitter ad solutions keep cropping up? Is it the case of an ambitious few, trying to make a quick buck by riding the wave of temporary Twitter popularity? Or are these providers really pioneers in a space that hasn't even matured to demonstrate its staying power yet?

As someone who's been in online advertising for more than 11 years (when advertisers similarly questioned the staying power of the Internet), I believe the answer is more of the latter. Please note that while I present the latest Twitter ad solutions, as a personal user of Twitter I don't necessarily endorse these tactics. I'm just trying to report the facts.


TweetROI is the latest sponsored tweet product. Creator Brian Carter, an agency director of PPC (define), envisioned a bid-for-placement marketplace among Twitter users, similar to PPC but in which users have editorial control over their tweets.

Carter said media planners should think about TweetROI's Twitterers as a publishing network, where tweets are the equivalent of real-time media and where the widespread reach of distribution works much like Google AdWords' Content Network. The system only discloses a paid tweet when the marketer requires it (via the use of a #ROI hashtag), but a soon-to-be-released update will provide further disclosures:

  • "AD" for direct marketing if the ad is used verbatim from an advertiser.

  • "SP" if the ad has been written in the Twitterer's own words.

  • "PR" for a public relations-purchased link.

  • No disclosure for nonprofits because those won't be paid campaigns.

Paid TweetROI tweets will also be identified as coming from "TweetROI Live" (as opposed to sources like "Web," "TweetDeck," or "Tweetie").


Launched as a grassroots, noble concept in 2008, adCause has struggled to find its stride. Working much like an ad exchange with a twist, publishers (normal Twitter users) name their price and have selection power over ads posted by advertisers. These paid tweets' sources are labeled "adCause," but otherwise there are no identifiers.

AdCause's unique hook is the ability for publishers to specify what percentage of their ad revenue they want to go to what charity.

Featured Users

Not a paid tweet solution at all, Featured Users leverages a network of independently built third-party Twitter applications to provide a means for Twitter accounts to gain visibility and grow their followers through banner ads. The ads are displayed on participating application Web sites, which then receive a portion of the revenue per ad impression it serves.

Featured Users Tweet

The network inventories more than 2 million impressions and can geotarget ad serving by cross-referencing the advertiser's self-indicated Twitter profile location with the surfer's IP address. Frequency capping is also available.

Featured users might be an inventive way for new brands joining Twitter to help attract followers. Because ads are generated on the fly by pulling from the user account's most current Twitter profile, the advertiser could also include some brand messaging in its bio that would resonate with viewers.

Final Words

It's worth noting that many of these early-stage Twitter advertising solutions lack sophistication expected by media planners. Standard media kits don't exist, payment methods are limited, and Web sites tend to be deficient in the advertiser-side information commonly required by planners. If you plan on experimenting here, it's a bit of the old Wild West.

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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