May 2010
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Twitter finally seems to have cracked its monetisation code

Recently, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, posted information on Twitter's advertising service, called Promoted Tweets, on the official blog (
A tweet is a message posted on Twitter by a user.

As per the blog post, Promoted Tweets will be the promotional messages that brands can post on Twitter. These 140 character messages will be labelled as 'promoted' but look like normal tweets posted by other users on the site. Users will be able to reply, forward, retweet and select these messages as favourites.

In the first phase, Twitter will only display such promotional messages as the top most tweet/message on the search results page of Twitter ( Similar to search advertising, marketers will be required to purchase keywords for which they want to showcase their promotional messages. Stone mentions, "Only one promoted tweet will be displayed on the search results page."

For instance, if a user searches for 'coffee' on, then he may get a tweet as a first result from the marketer who has bought the keyword 'coffee'.

Recently, in a conference called Chirp in the US, Evan Williams, chief executive officer, Twitter disclosed that receives about 600 million search queries in a day.

The blog post further reveals that the functionality of Promotional Tweets will be extended beyond search. In the next phase, brands will be able to directly insert promoted or paid tweets inside the users' feed - displayed on the home page of members. The home page displays 'updates' posted by a user as well as of other Twitter users whose updates he has subscribed to.

However, there is no detail in the blog about how Promoted Tweets will affect brands which are already active or using for free for marketing, customer care and sales purposes.

The most interesting characteristic of the advertising service launched by Twitter will be its measurement system or metric, called Resonance.

The micro blogging site will remove promoted messages in case it finds that a significant number of users are not interacting with the promoted tweets. "Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar - they must resonate with users. This means that if users don't interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that it is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favouring it or retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear," Stone adds in the blog post.

It is important to note that Resonance will be applicable to only promoted or paid tweets and free messages posted by brands will not be removed, even if Twitter members do not interact with them.

We spoke to a few industry experts to figure out what sort of messages brands should select for Promoted Tweets and will Twitter's resonance or merit based advertising put pressure on advertisers to post creative tweets?

Gaurav Mishra, chief executive officer, 2020 Social, says that brands should promote 'contest' related tweets, where the brand encourages users to share or submit ideas or stories to win a prize; 'cause marketing' tweets, where the brand seeks users' support on a cause; and promote messages posted by customers, where they review, recommend or give kudos to the brand, product or service.

"Promoted Tweets feature could be used by service brands, gadgets and maybe even movie brands," says Lakshmipathy Bhat, vice-president, Draft FCB Ulka.

Bhat adds, "There could be a sponsored message or tweet for someone looking for advice on which mobile phone brand to buy. However, I think such tweets need to provide a specific benefit like a discount coupon for a coffee brand or some early bird offer for movie tickets."

Anshul Nanda, brand manager, Fastrack, believes that paid messages on Twitter should be action oriented. He thinks that plain broadcasts or announcements of schemes will not work. Brands will be required to be more creative in their Promoted Tweets, which should be more engaging, relevant and useful for users.

However, Hareesh Tibrewala, joint chief executive officer, Social Wavelength, a Mumbai based social media firm, has a different point of view. He says, "I don't think that creativity will be too much at a premium in the Promoted Tweet service."

Tibrewala elaborates, "A good analogy would be Google AdWords. Is Google advertising seriously creative? Getting your Google Ad seen and clicked upon at an affordable cost per click (CPC) seems more like a science and less of an art. A mediocre ad with the right keyword density has a better chance of being displayed by Google compared to a very creative communication. Soon, the math behind the Resonance Score will get broken down into bits and pieces and algorithms and tools will be created to find ways to beat the math."

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