How much is a tweet worth to a campaign? We’re about to find out.
Executives from the social media giant Twitter told Politico that they are set to offer political advertising for all those interested. With the 2012 presidential campaign alone expected to cost well over $1 billion, the company is eager to compete with more traditional forms of online advertising for a share of those campaign dollars.
‘We’ve had five years to watch and observe how people are using the platform organically and we know politicians are active on the platform, and we know that consumers enjoy the messages from those politicians,’ said Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue. ‘We’re excited about the election cycle, and we think that ads both in the timeline and in search are a huge opportunity.’
The company only began to expand into advertising last year, but has brought over Peter Greenberger, a former Democratic staffer who was most recently a top political marketing executive from Google, in order to oversee the effort.
Similar to Google ads, rates will be determined by having prospective advertisers bidding on search terms. Unlike the company’s commercial advertising model, campaigns will not be permitted to insert ads directly into users ‘timelines,’ where updates from others the user is following normally appear.
Instead, Twitter will offer three separate, and hopefully less intrusive, options. Promoted tweets, which will look similar to non-commercial tweets with the exception of a small logo and disclaimer, will appear when a certain term is searched for and will always appear in the timeline of users following the campaign. Promoted trends will allow campaigns to appear on lists of ‘trending topics.’ Finally, the company will offer promoted accounts, in which the campaign’s account is suggested to Twitter users who have similar interests.
The new ads are certain to make an immediate impact on the 2012 campaign. Though Bain declined to tell Politico exactly which campaigns would advertise, he did confirm that five of the presidential campaigns were signed on. A different source told Politico that Mitt Romney and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are among the early adopters.
The company hopes that the additional advertising revenue will help the company begin making profits that are more on par with it’s perceived cultural centrality. Until recently, the company has appeared wary of appearing to cash in on it’s popularity.
‘We should think of revenue like breathing—it’s necessary for life, but it’s not the purpose of life,’ said CEO Dick Costolo during a recent gathering at company headquarters in San Francisco, CA.
The timing of the move into advertising is interesting. Twitter is stepping up its presence in D.C., a sign that the company has now become large enough that government policy matters to it’s operations.