Ads on Twitter: Japan to be Testing Ground

Do you Twitter? The micro-blogging phenomenon appears to be mid-tipping point, having spilled over from the developer/tech community into the general populace. Well, into the marketing community anyway. Agency execs are there, as are ad rag reporters, and yes, a bunch of ClickZ writers and editors. (See feeds for Rebecca Lieb, Erin Brenner, Pete Blackshaw, Kevin Ryan and yours truly)

So the inevitable next step for Twitter is how to get ads on the platform without alienating users. It’s a tough question. The application is more personal and conversation-based than blogging ever was, which naturally makes it a touchy place to stick marketing messages.

Its investors appear to have hit on a partial solution with a new Japanese version that includes ads from Toyota and others. Joi Ito, whose Digital Garage bought its Twitter stake in January, detailed the launch and the ad strategy in a blog post last night.

In addition to display ads across Twitter, Toyota has its own account where it can talk about events and products. Ito writes: “The ad directs people to their Twitter account where the users can follow that account. Toyota can easily see who their fans are and follow what their fans are saying about them.” The car maker appears not to have posted to its profile yet.

It may be Twitter’s revenues will come from placing ads on multiple overseas versions, while keeping the U.S. product free — for now. Look for ads down the road when (Twitter hopes) everyone’s grandma is tweeting updates from the retirement home musical theater audition room, and we’re all too hopelessly reliant on the service to object to commercial interruptions.

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