Why It's A Really Big Deal The AP Is Selling Ads In Its Tweets

January 11, 2013

twitter, tweets, associated press


For the first time, The Associated Press is selling ads in its tweets. The Nieman Journalism Lab reports AP will be sending out two sponsored tweets per day during this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Samsung was its first taker paying the wire service to send out tweets to its 1,536,120 followers.  Now we’ve all seen a sponsored tweet before, so what’s different about this? Well, Twitter isn’t making a dime and surprisingly, they’re ok with it.

John Koetsier of Venturebeat notes that the AP’s sponsored tweets don’t seem to violate any of Twitter’s rules. Twitter currently bans selling automated tweets. So as long as AP is actually tweeting and indicates that the tweets are indeed sponsored they should be in the clear. At least for now.

But, let’s keep in mind all that could change if Twitter decides it wants in on this whole trading tweets for cash thing.  Koetsier mentions that even though the social network is experiencing massive growth, it still needs revenue to justify its value.

So, let’s take a look at what Twitter has to offer advertisers.

The social network currently provides its own version of promoted tweets where brands can purchase tweets to increase their reach with the intent of growing their follower count. The positive for brands is that these tweets are shown to everyone that fits into their target market. So, you know you’re reaching your intended audience, which is a pretty cost efficient method for advertisers. However, the site doesn’t currently offer a way for brands or people to sell direct access to their Twitter feeds. This brings up the question of whether or not this is a source of revenue that Twitter should be capitalizing on.

Or are they already?

Alex Kantrowitz, a writer for Forbes suggests this business model might already have its own benefits for the social network. He spoke with Jason Stein of Laundry Service, (a social media agency) who says he would never pay someone to tweet about a client without paying Twitter to amplify the message as well. This brings up an interesting theory. Stein discusses the promoted retweet tool that the site offers clients. Stein says, “This tool allows advertisers to natively retweet others’ tweets and then, with the original tweeters’ permission, promote them.” So for example, Samsung could use Twitter’s retweet tool with AP’s permission to gain the tweet even greater reach.

But what does all this mean?  This sponsored tweet method has the potential to draw advertisers to Twitter and the more advertisers see it as a successful tool for advertising the more likely they are to use the social network’s services. In the end, publishers selling these promoted tweets are helping to bring ad dollars to the site. And let’s be honest even Lady Gaga doesn’t have the reach Twitter’s services provide, so why pay for anything else?

Assuming Twitter continues to allow this sponsored tweet model one has to wonder its effects on the Twitter-verse. How will the average user feel about ads appearing in their feeds from their favorite Twitter handles?  Will people be turned away from the popular site if it becomes cluttered with ads? AP’s media relations coordinator, Erin Madigan White says the ads didn’t seem to have a negative effect on their following. On the day the tweets were sent, she reported a typical increase of a couple hundred new followers. However, the AP did get a few negative tweets sent their way. Only time will tell how advertising will affect people’s perception of the social network.