Twitter is bringing a new and more visible ad format that promotes advertiser accounts on the service to users' mobile tweet streams.
The company has had promoted accounts since October 2010, and they appear in a "who to follow" module along with organic recommendations tailored to users' perceived interests. While the ads are fairly prominent on the desktop version of Twitter, appearing alongside users' streams, they had gotten very little visibility within Twitter's mobile apps, where they're effectively smothered by other functionality and relegated to an obscure corner.
Since 76% of Twitter's monthly users on average were accessing the service from a mobile device in the third quarter, it makes sense that the company is looking for new ways to grow mobile revenue. Ad revenue from mobile already constitutes more than 70% of Twitter's total, however, so its numbers are moving in the right direction.
Timeline promoted accounts will appear only on iOS and Android devices, not in tweet streams accessed on a desktop. The promoted account will be published beneath a tweet from the advertiser, and they'll flow together through users' streams.
The introduction of the new format won't affect the frequency at which ads appear, according to a Twitter spokeswoman. And as with the existing version of promoted accounts, advertisers are only charged when a user follows the account, not on an overall impression basis.
In the blog post announcing the new product, a use case for small and medium-sized businesses is presented. "For example, a new coffee shop could run a geo-targeted promoted accounts campaign in timeline to build awareness about their business and explain why users should follow them on Twitter," according to the post.
Since Twitter went public last month, it's made several updates to its ad products, including the introduction of TV targeting aimed at smaller advertisers who can't afford a national TV buy and a wider rollout of retargeted ads, which were announced last summer.
Twitter's stock is trading at over $56, more than double its IPO price.