Twitter began launching advertising services in April, but the results have been mixed. Twitter recently told the Wall Street Journal that 80% of those who had used its ad services were repeat buyers. But some advertisers who initially flocked to Twitter, like Pepsi, have not made further purchases. Twitter remains an experimental market for advertisers (and is, itself, still experimenting with an advertising revenue model). It's a potentially a high-risk bet for advertisers at that, since the Journal also reports that Promoted Tweets can fetch more than $100,000. In June, Twitter also started allowing advertisers to pay for "Promoted Trends" on the site.
Yesterday All Things Digital reported that Twitter would be adding a third advertising option: entire "Promoted Accounts." (We were told to expect an announcement on pricing today, and will update when that comes.) A tweet is just 140 characters, and trend is just a topic of passing interest. But an account—that's something enduring, something users could potentially wind up receiving updates from permanently. Is Twitter crossing a line here?
Probably not. In fact, Twitter might have done better to introduce Promoted Accounts as the first of its advertising options. Some users have been put off by the invasive nature recently of Promoted Trends, which have a way of cropping up uninvited on the trending topics sidebar. But a Promoted Account is arguably the least invasive of the three ad strategies. To follow a Promoted Account is purely opt-in strategy, and accounts will be promoted following the same algorithm as the old "Who to Follow" feature, which already took care to cater to your interests.
Promoted Accounts have the potential to be the advertising gold that Twitter has been searching for—a potential win-win for advertiser and user, since the former could wind up building more business than they could from a single tweet, and the latter are less likely to be irked by tweets and trends on topics that don't interest them. The notion of promoting entire accounts has a daunting sound to it, which is why Twitter probably steered clear of the idea back in April and June, but it has the potential to be both the least intrusive and most lucrative strategy Twitter has struck on to date.