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Marketing departments are used to coming up with quick ways of selling their products, so saying "buy my product" in 140 characters or less is pretty simple. So when Twitter came on the scene, using the mass medium as a sales platform was a natural.
San Francisco-based social marketing genius Twitter figured out that they can make money from those ads, and announced Tuesday that it is introducing a new advertising platform that lets companies pay to have their messages show up in search results.
The feature is called Promoted Tweets. Best Buy, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America have already signed up, Twitter says.
Twitter's popularity has boomed since it started in 2006, but the company hadn't defined a plan for turning its wide usage into profits. The eventual introduction of advertising was expected, although Twitter also has been making an undisclosed amount of money by providing Google and Microsoft with access to messages for their search engines.
The new Promoted Tweets are to be "called out" as ads on top of search results on Twitter, much as sponsors can pay for listings atop rankings on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. That means Twitter users would see the new ads when they search broadly for topics being tweeted about.
But in a blog post by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Twitter said it might take the Promoted Tweets service further and make them also show up in the feeds of messages that users get from people they are "following" on the site.
Some critics wonder how much money Promoted Tweets can bring in for the company.
Stone said Promoted Tweets will need to resonate with users. If a Promoted Tweet isn't replied to or forwarded by other users, it will disappear.
Some see this as a winning strategy.
"This will likely reward brands with the most relevant and engaging messages, which is a win for the strategists over the screamers," advertising blogger Jon Burg wrote.