Twitter set for major ad expansion as it launches self service ad platform

Twitter is launching a self advertising platform aimed at small businesses who will for the first time have the same control over their online ads on the microblogging service as they do on Facebook.

The self-service ad platfrom will go live in March and will massively expand the number of advertisers using Twitter from an estimated 3,000 to tens of thousands. Twitter has also announced that the new version of Twitter is now available for all.

Twitter is offering a $100 free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses that sign up to the service initially in partnership with American Express merchants and customers.

Twitter said it will launch its new ad offering more widely later this year.

Twitter began the roll-out of the self-service ad platform in mid-November with a group of fewer than 20 advertisers, which was expanded to around 100.

CEO Dick Costolo has said that opening up the self-serve platform is a key development for Twitter as it steadily begins to boost its revenues.

It will also open up a new avenue for small businesses tens of thousands of which use Twitter as a key part of their marketing. Twitter has been described as a game changer for some small businesses and last year Twitter highlighted some of the ways that small business were effectively using the service in Twitter Stories.

Costolo said that “by opening up our ad platform to all these folks [small businesses] as a mechanism for them to amplify the value they’re already creating”.

Launching the service in an election year will also help raise the profile of the Twitter ad platform as Republicans and Democrat supporters slug it out in the presidential election race.

The change could greatly change the number of ads users start to see on the site.  It is a necessary and welcome move for Twitter, but it will be interesting to see how it goes down with the Twitter community.

The news follows Twitter announcing it was launching enhanced pages for brands last month.

Small businesses will be able to set bids for promoted accounts on a cost-per-follower basis and for promoted tweets on a cost-per-engagement basis. This means that businesses only pay when a user engages by retweeting, replies to, clicks or favourites” a Promoted Tweet. Promoted Accounts feature in Twitter searches and “who to follow” recommendations.

It will allow small businesses to bid for key local words in the same way that bigger advertisers bid on words likely to make national and international news.

Costolo pointed to Glennz Tees, an online T-shirt retailer that was part of this winter’s pilot group, as a small business that has already had success using the self-serve platform. After a character on “The Big Band Theory” appeared on the show wearing a Glennz shirt, the owners took to their Twitter account and bought up terms related to the show. Mr. Costolo claims they doubled their holiday sales over the previous year and tripled their Twitter followers, Ad Age reports.

One issue that Twitter will face is controlling spam and other unwanted advertisers off of the social network, which is a already a growing problem on the network.

Part of that role will fall to the internet security firm Dasient that Twitter recently bought. It has a service to protect ad networks and publishers from rogue ads.

American Express Cardmembers and merchants can register to participate in the initial introduction of this new offering via ads.twitter.com/amex.

New Twitter for all

Twitter has announced that the new version of Twitter that is launched in December is not available to everyone. It rolled it out gradually at the end of last year making it available for mobile phones, via the mobile web, Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, here are the highlights:

  • Click any Tweet in your timeline to expand it to see photos, videos, retweets, favourites, and more.Twitter.com shortcut: You can quickly close all expanded Tweets by pressing “L” (as in Larry) on your keyboard.
  • Connect is your way to keep conversations going. It’s the place to see who has followed or mentioned you, or retweeted or favourited one of your Tweets.Twitter.com shortcut: Type “GC” (as in “Go Connect”), to jump to the Connect tab.
  • Discover lets you tap into a stream of useful and entertaining information, customized just for you. When you use Discover, you’ll see results reflecting your interests. These are based on your current location, what you follow and what’s happening in the world.Twitter.com shortcut: “GD” (as in “Go Discover”) takes you to the Discover tab. If you want to go directly to Activity, enter “GA”.
  • Embed Tweets on your website by copying and pasting one line of code.
  • Take a tour of the new experience.
  • Check out the new Twitter brand pages from accounts like @NPRNews, @Audi and others.