Twitter will remove the opportunity for third parties to inject sponsored tweets into users’ feeds in preparation for the launch of its own Promoted Tweets product, the company has announced.
In a blog post published today, Twitter COO Dick Costolo wrote, “Aside from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API. We are updating our Terms of Service to articulate clearly what we mean by this statement.”
According to Costolo, third-party networks “are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created,” and are likely to focus their attention on short-term revenue gains over the long-term health of the Twitter ecosystem. In addition, the company argued it essentially bankrolls the majority of third-party ad activity on the service by providing, maintaining, and scaling the network without reimbursement.
Twitter experienced substantial growth throughout 2009, but the company made no initial attempt to monetize that audience through advertising. As a result, a number of third-party networks built businesses around the practice of injecting ad messages into users’ feeds via Twitter’s API. Users effectively sell their tweets to advertisers and are reimbursed by ad networks, usually on a cost-per-click basis.
Magpie, one of the most high-profile networks in the space, claims its clients have included large global brands such as Sony, Burger King, Audi, and LG to date. On its website, the company says its network “provides a mutually beneficially partnership between brands and twitterers.”
Another Twitter ad service from IZEA called Sponsored Tweets, inserts a disclosure message at the beginning of posts sponsored by advertisers.
As Costolo points out, however, Magpie and its competitors do little to benefit Twitter itself, but could potentially alienate users who may find themselves inundated with commercial messages. “We understand that for a few of these companies, the new Terms of Service prohibit activities in which they’ve invested time and money,” Twitter’s blog post plainly stated. It clarified, however, that it does not intend to attempt to limit the inclusion of ads surrounding its content on third-party clients.
Twitter finally announced plans for its own advertiser offering in mid-April after months of anticipation. Its Promoted Tweets product will initially take the form of ordinary Tweets that appear on search results pages based on which keywords are used, similar to Google’s AdWords for Search Product.
The first phase of the program will include a small number of advertisers, including Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America, the company said.
Magpie had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publish.