Twitter is feeling the need. The need to monetize. As such, today the service is going to begin testing in-stream ads through popular third-party client HootSuite, AdAge first reported and Twitter has since confirmed.
So what does this mean? Unlike Twitter’s previous experiments with advertising (through their Promoted Suite products), these new ads will be the first that appear in-stream regardless of what a user is doing. Previously, with Promoted Tweets, for example, they showed up pinned to the top of the stream only when a user did a search. This new way of advertising will have tweets from the likes of Virgin, Starbucks, Red Bull and others in a user’s regular stream of tweets.
But Twitter says that these tweets will still be based on targeting. What they mean is that you should only see them if you follow people or products on Twitter that are related to the Tweet ad they have to show you.
Again, for now, these Tweet ads will only appear to users who are using HootSuite, a client which about a million of Twitter’s 175 million users use. But if this is a success, you can expect this to roll out to other clients shortly. And yes, these ads could appear on Twitter.com one day as well.
You may recall that back in May, Twitter started making moves to prohibit third-party ad networks from advertising in Twitter’s stream. By June, this hammer was dropped, which sort of screwed startups like ad.ly — though they adapted. There were a few reasons why Twitter did this, but the most obvious is that they wanted to be the ones to serve up the in-stream ads themselves. And now they’re starting to.
Update: Here’s Twitter’s post on the matter. Of note, these are still called Promoted Tweets, they’re just playing around with when and where they’ll show up. Here’s a key blurb:
Similar to our Promoted Account recommendations, we use several signals to determine a Promoted Tweet’s relevance to a user, including the public list of whom they follow. We will expand the rollout only when we feel we’re delivering a high-quality user experience.