New York, NY– Twitter plans to launch a self-service advertising platform in 2011 which will include the ability to geo-target commercial messages, according to the company’s COO, Dick Costolo.
Speaking at the IAB Mixx conference in NYC this morning, Costolo said the company has focused on testing its commercial products with big brand advertisers, but plans to offer a solution to long-tail advertisers by next year.
“When we got started big brands were already using Twitter, so it was very easy for us to go to them and help enhance the conversations they were already having with customers,” Costolo said, referring to ad product trials currently being conducted with around 40 brands, including Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets. “That doesn’t mean [we can’t offer value] for long tail companies. We intend to use that experience to build out the infrastructure for the long tail of advertisers, and will provide a self-service platform next year to do local advertising.”
Costolo said brands are forming “a line out the door to spend significant dollars” with Twitter, and that it would be working with “hundreds” by the end of the year. He added that the company intends to take its time scaling its ad products, however, in order to maintain user experience and engagement rates. “We could accept millions of dollars from advertisers right now for short-term revenue, but we have no intention of doing that,” he said, adding, “Engaged users will be of more long-term value to Twitter, and aid monetization.”
However, Costolo did describe a new marketing offering it intends to trial in near future, dubbed Promoted Accounts. The tool will enable brands to include themselves in the Suggested Followers panel that appears on users’ accounts, but those brands will only be suggested if deemed relevant to users. “It’s about building an audience for the brand,” he said.
Costolo took to the stage at Mixx directly after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, but downplayed any rivalry between the two social sites. “We don’t think of ourselves as competing with Facebook… We think of ourselves as moving significant dollars from existing industries to this new industry,” he said, specifically citing traditional mediums such as TV advertising, and highlighting the company’s work with movie studios to date.
From an ad sales perspective, Costolo said the challenge for the company’s expanding commercial team is now to “figure out how to scale advertising,” whilst making sure it does so in “a reasoned and pragmatic way.”