Twitter Rolls Out Ads in the Timeline with ‘Promoted Tweets’

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For anyone wondering how Twitter is planning to make money, we have our answer: Promoted Tweets. You may have noticed certain Promoted Tweets when using the search box on Twitter’s website, but the company is now rolling out Promoted Tweets directly in user timelines.

Twitter is taking a baby steps approach by partnering with HootSuite, a popular web-based platform used to manage multiple social networks.

According to Twitter’s blog post:

“During this testing period with HootSuite, we will experiment with where and when Promoted Tweets are shown in the timeline. Not all HootSuite users will see Promoted Tweets and those who do may see different Promoted Tweets in different places in their timeline. As with Promoted Tweets in search, we will display Promoted Tweets in the timeline when they are relevant. Similar to our Promoted Account recommendations, we use several signals to determine a Promoted Tweet’s relevance to a user, including the public list of whom they follow. We will expand the rollout only when we feel we’re delivering a high-quality user experience.”

This is interesting for a few reasons. First, it signals that Promoted Tweets will eventually find their way directly into users timelines on—that shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Second, you’d have to think that this could eventually pave the way for premium and free Twitter accounts, with premium accounts being free of ads.

However, HootSuite already offers Pro ($5.99 per month) and Basic (free) plans and one of the features of the Pro plan is that “You can opt out of seeing promoted tweets in your search or social stream.”

Now what happens if Twitter rolls out a premium plan and then all these third-party Twitter apps offer their own premium plans? Will we have to pay twice to remove Promoted Tweets?

What may end up happening is that Twitter would remain free, but supported by Promoted Tweets, and you’d be able to opt out if you like. If you used a third-party application, though, you’d have to pay to have Promoted Tweets removed from your timeline inside the app. Twitter would still make money through revenue-sharing deals with these apps.

Whatever the case, Twitter’s hoping we don’t opt out of Promoted Tweets, saying, “We want to display Promoted Tweets in a way that’s both useful and authentic to the Twitter experience” by helping “people discover interesting accounts, people and information they may otherwise have missed.”

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