Twitter: Users outrage at advertising

27th June 2011

The micro-blogging social media site is reportedly looking at ways to increase revenue and is talking to advertisers about introducing "promoted tweets" into the Tweet streams of its users.

Currently users have control over what they see on the site. Users "follow" certain people and companies and can "unfollow" any whose Tweets fall below par. But if "promoted" Tweets are introduced they will see adverts and promotional messages in their timeline as well as normal Tweets.

The move could make a big difference to how people experience and use Twitter.

It comes at a time when the site is examining options to generate more revenue. Social networking rivals such as Facebook are much more effective when it comes to making money from their audience.

Twitter executives have been meeting with marketers and agencies on the fringes of the Cannes Lions event this week to discuss new ways of making money.

Other options being discussed include offering Groupon-type deals. Groupon and other group buying websites offer time-limited money-saving deals to groups of consumers. Other ideas include enhanced profile pages for brands. 

Twitter users can already see some promotional Tweets on the site by typing relevant terms into Twitter's search facility.

It also offers "promoted trends", at the top of the list of the most popular topics of discussion on the site, and "promoted accounts" in a list of recommended users to follow.

Earlier this month Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said more than 80% of Twitter advertisers come back and renew and claimed that average engagement rate with ads on Twitter was much better than traditional media advertising.

He said that a Volkswagen "promotional Tweet" for its new VW Beetle had engagement rate of 52%.

But plans to introduce adverts into users' timelines won't go down well with the site's users.

On social, marketing and media blog The Wall, one reader interimdevelopments wrote: "Twitter's follow suggestions are of some use. If this reflects the relevance of how the Twitter feed ad will be they'll have to fine tune it a bit. It will have to be modified to who follows who and what is being streamed otherwise it'll be intrusive and a demand for a purer service will manifest."

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