Chevrolet has been appearing in a targeted paid Twitter promo today as the top listing in the site's "Who to follow/Suggestions for you" section, following up Xbox's and Rock Star Game's appearances earlier this week.
Part of the "Promoted Accounts" platform unveiled via Twitter's blog on Monday, the ads are served based on users' individually shown interests via an algorithm. It's a departure from the social company's promoted tweets and promoted trends, which are served to all viewers on the site.
A Twitter executive said during Advertising Week that 40 brands are running ads on its platform. During e-mail exchanges with ClickZ on Thursday, the San Francisco-based company wouldn't discuss what other brands are currently targeting users via promoted accounts or how the placement is priced.
Here's an excerpt from Twitter's blog on how the ads get targeted:
"Promoted Accounts are suggested based on a user's public list of whom they follow. When an advertiser promotes an account, Twitter's algorithm looks at that account's followers and determines other accounts that those users tend to follow. If a user follows some of those accounts, but not the advertiser's account, then Twitter may recommend the advertiser's Promoted Account to that user. For example, a lot of people who follow several gaming-related accounts also follow @xbox. If someone follows gaming-related accounts, but not @xbox, Twitter may recommend @xbox to that person."
Yael Miller, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based social media marketing firm Miller Mosaic, questioned how effective algorithm- and shown-interest-based ads could be on Twitter. Because most people use the website for work rather than pleasure in contrast to Facebook, she said, a lot of the shown interest on the micro-blogging site may have nothing to do with a consumer's purchase intent.
"Some people follow companies they have no connection to," she explained. "I think there is a difference between serving the ad to someone who follows a car company because it's part of their job versus a person who is actually interested in Chevrolet."
At the same time, if picking up scores of followers was one of the automotive brand's key goals, it's probably debatable whether or not Miller's skepticism about the ad purchase is valid. As of 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, according to data from Twittercounter.com, Chevrolet had picked up 530 followers in one day.
So, a big question remains: How much did those followers cost? Chevrolet wasn't available for comment.
Meanwhile, Miller said promoted account ads - like promoted trends and tweets - are designed in a user-friendly manner. "It's not a disruption," she said. "It's not a banner ad. It's not like a YouTube ad when a movie takes over the front page."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT