Twitter Widens Its Advertising Net, Tests Promoted Tweets With Logged-Out Users

It’s been over a year since Twitter first said it planned to monetize logged-out users — that is, make money off the 500 million or so people who dip in and read Tweets without being signed in or even registered. Now it’s coming good on the plan: today Twitter said it’s running a test showing Promoted Tweets to Twitter users without an account.

The private beta is starting first in the U.S., UK, Japan and Australia before rolling out elsewhere. The first Promoted Tweet tests will be desktop only and will appear in two places: profile pages and Tweet detail pages (when you see a single Tweet on the page). Also, Twitter says the initial focus will be on campaigns to drive website clicks and conversions, as well as video views.

Twitter is starting with this limited run but will let advertisers control the Promoted Tweets in the same way they do today for logged-in users. “By letting marketers scale their campaigns and tap into the total Twitter audience, they will be able to speak to more people in new places using the same targeting, ad creative, and measurement tools,” writes Deepak Rao, a revenue product manager at the company. “Marketers can now maximize the opportunities they have to connect with that audience.”

The move to start to show Promoted Tweets comes at a time when Twitter needs to get much more serious about how its capturing and capitalizing on its wider audience. Last quarter, the company revealed that it had only 320 million monthly active users, with weak guidance for the quarter ahead — meaning that Twitter’s ability to capture its much larger non-registered audience represents a big opportunity.

At the same time, Twitter has been getting its ducks in a row for rolling what is possibly its biggest test yet at how it might monetize logged out users. That has included its firehose deal with Google, where Tweets come in search results to net in more logged-out user traffic; and the launch of its Audience Platform, an expanded set of tools to serve Promoted Tweets to Twitter’s wider ad network across multiple apps.

Logged-in users today see Promoted Tweets — Twitter’s basic ad unit — in a number of places: at the top of search results; in the search results of a Promoted Trend; in Timelines (of course); and via official Twitter clients (one reason why Twitter has kept the wider Twitter user experience relatively close to its chest and away from third-party clients).

In other words, it’s very possible that we may see yet more Promoted Tweet appearances for logged-out users down the line.

While CFO Anthony Noto and former CEO Dick Costolo may have first alluded to Twitter’s ambitions to generate revenue from logged out users in October, 2014, signs that Promoted Tweets would finally be getting turned on appeared this previous October, when Adam Bain, the company’s head of revenue, noted during its earnings call that Twitter would start to show ads to logged-out users in a pilot this quarter.