Twitter tested sending ads into Hootsuite users' timelines seven
months ago, but those promoted tweets included marketers that users
Twitter said it will limit the amount of ads a user may see in a
given period of time, but it hasn't settled on a specific boundary.
Insiders say users could see as many as four or five ads in a
session, provided they already follow the brands placing sponsored
Initial testing will include about 20 marketers, including
Virgin America, Sephora and Starbucks, which will each be bidding
to push their ads into a user's timeline. That means a marketer
could be bidding against no one, or against 20 other brands if
there are enough users who follow that many companies.
Brands bid on a per-engagement price and only pay when the user
engages with the promoted tweet -- in other words, the tweet costs
money only when users click, reply, favorite or retweet the
"This solves the problem of what we've heard from our users,"
said Twitter's sales chief, Adam Bain. "Users told us, 'We want
these brands' updates, offers and product information, and we're
bummed when we miss them.'"
Mr. Bain said he believes there won't be the kinds of complaints
that Twitter got when it launched the QuickBar in March -- a
feature that suggested topics for users. Twitter had to almost
immediately suspend the overlay bar that appeared on the iPhone
Twitter app because of user outrage at the feature's
The promoted tweets now being introduced will only appear to
users who want to communicate with these marketers. "These users
opted in to following these brands, so they have already indicated
they want to hear from them," Mr. Bain said, explaining that
followers will get exclusive content, such as sneak peeks at
episodes of HBO's "True Blood."