Twitter is signaling to agencies that it's all grown up and ready to service them the way the likes of Google and AOL do.
The company has hired a new director of agency business development, former Google exec Matt Derella, who oversaw the company's relationship with Publicis, the world's third-largest holding company by revenue.
Google has invested considerable resources into improving its image at agencies after building its fortune largely as a self-service advertising platform. Publicis has close ties to Google and uses its DoubleClick Bid Manager for much of its targeted ad buying. Now Mr. Derella will be tasked with establishing relationships at other ad holding companies on Twitter's behalf.
But as a younger company with only modest revenue (eMarketer projects a $288 million haul this year), Twitter is approaching agencies from a different vantage than Google did; it's looking to adland to help build its business from the ground up.
"Twitter understands that agencies are going to be a really important part of the Twitter advertising ecosystem, and they understand that we need to invest in our agency partners," Mr. Derella said.
Mr. Derella intends to spend his first months on the job meeting with agency CEOs and chief creative officers for whom "it's hard ... to find the time to go deep and understand how to harness the best of Twitter," he said. But one challenge he may face is convincing ad executives that Twitter is a platform they need to invest in, rather than a place to experiment. That view was espoused during Advertising Week, at a panel dubbed "Agency CEOs on Tech," where Greg Stern of Butler , Shine, Stern & Partners said, "It remains to be seen if Twitter can be a marketing platform. It's democratized journalism."
"If there are agencies out there who are unsure about Twitter, part of my job will be to understand what those concerns are and hopefully bring out some facts and some case studies and some examples for why we believe it's an amazing platform for brands to connect with consumers," Mr. Derella said.
Mr. Derella is based in New York but said Twitter will be hiring for the global agency development team he'll eventually lead in San Francisco and London as well. As for other markets he'll focus on, he mentioned Japan as one that 's "very interesting."
He'll report to Joel Lunenfeld, VP-global brand strategies, who himself comes from the agency world. (He was CEO of the digital agency Moxie Interactive until 2011.) While he says their roles are complementary, Mr. Derella emphasized that he'll be squarely focused on agencies, educating them about the ever-evolving platform and ad products, and addressing problems they have, while Mr. Lunenfeld works directly with brands as well as agencies and focuses on campaign strategy. Sales to agencies is still the domain of Chief Revenue Officer Adam Bain's team.