Today I saw an advertisement in my Twitter stream. Not something that was ReTweeted by a friend, but an ad that looked like a Tweet, inserted in my stream. Not off to the side in a sponsored area, but right in my main stream. Facebook does this too, but usually off to the side in a "sponsored" area. This is a new type of advertising, and it could change everything.
I have heard rumblings about Twitter experimenting with new ad formats and "promoted tweets" but this is the first time I have actually seen it in my stream. The screen shot above shows both a "promoted tweet" in the left side bar, and a regular looking Tweet in my main stream with a little "promoted" label where I expected to see a "retweeted by xyz". There is nothing wrong with this, I was just surprised by it. Have any of you seen this in your Twitter streams?
Twitter works with companies interested in advertising on Twitter by creating an ad that looks like a normal Tweet. Its not clear how Twitter decides which advertisement to insert in your stream, now they target, how often they insert it, or how they measure success and get paid for success. Twitter knows a lot about you, your location, who you follow, etc, so they can do some pretty effective targeting. The real social multiplier comes when users ReTweet these ads to their followers. Then is switches from a social targeted ad to a word of mouth social ad from your friends. This could be big!
I checked Facebook to see how they do ads which they call "sponsored stories". These have been around for a long time. They usually show up off on the right side bar and are easily ignored. They attract attention by posting little photos of your friends next to them with text that says "Steve Schlafman likes Naked Apartments". I'm not making this up...really...look at the screen shot below. Be careful what you "Like" on Facebook...you never know where it might show up.
Word of mouth advertising has always been most effective. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter enable taking "word of mouth" to a whole new level. This is just the very early stages of what promises to be a revolution in advertising.
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