‘Promoted tweets’ will appear at the top of keyword search results on Twitter.com from today, in a move similar to Google’s wildly successful sponsored links.
Later Twitter plans to extend this to the stream of posts individual users see when they log on.
The promoted posts will be ‘ordinary Tweets that businesses and organisations want to highlight to a wider group of users’.
They will be written by the advertisers in Twitter’s usual 140 characters per entry. Only one such post will appear on a search results page, and only if it contains the keyword.
Among its first advertisers, Twitter has signed up big names including Best Buy, Virgin America and Starbucks, The New York Times reported.
Not surpisingly, the announcement was among the most hotly discussed topics of today. ‘Good days are over,’ tweeted Katerina.
‘Seems like it won’t be too intrusive,’ wrote Avatar1_normal, while j_armitage added: ‘It had to happen.’
Latest figures from comScore show Twitter – which started up more than two years ago – had 22.3million unique users in March.
That excludes millions more who access the service through third-party web and smartphone applications such as TweetDeck.
But it has bene slow to publish plans on how to monetise the traffic. Twitter, a privately held company, does not report earnings, but its website says: ‘While our business model is in a research phase, we spend more money than we make’.
Facebook, by comparison, is expected to make about $1 billion in revenue this year from demographically targeted advertising based on profiles of its 400million users.