Like all announcements from Twitter, the micro-blogging site’s piloting of its new ad format- which will promote content from brands which users have previously shown interest in into their news feeds- has garnered much attention and heated debate.
It’s difficult to imagine such heated debated or any debate at all had say the FT or Bloomberg launched a new ad format, rather such an announcement would prompt most journalists to hit the delete button.
But alongside this announcement coming from Twitter, the new ad format raises privacy issues which in light of the recent US government surveillance leaks is the subject de jour.
The new ad format – piloting in the US but likely arriving in the UK soon – works by allowing advertisers to upload website cookies and users email addresses (anonymised to protect privacy) to Twitter’s advertising platform, so brands can better target ads.
The idea of using web browser history to target ads is defiantly old skool aping not only Facebook and Google but Yahoo too.
Not only is it old skool, it is at odds with Twitter’s original strategy which was all about targeting around current social activity and not delving into historic email addresses.
Now, it seems the future will be a mix of new and old ad formats.
On the privacy issue, Twitter is offering users what it claims to be an easy “opt out” option of any forms of targeting in their account settings, protecting itself from claims that it’s eroding user’s privacy.
As the Twitter blog is quick to point out “this is the only place you’ll need to disable this feature on Twitter.”
That said, how many of Twitter’s millions of users will be aware that they need to “opt out” should they have such worries is another question altogether