Twitter unveils advertising plan

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The Independent Online

Twitter unveiled a plan Tuesday to use advertising to turn its massive popularity into cash.

Biz Stone, one of the three co-founders of the micro-blogging service, provided details of the long-awaited revenue-generating plan for the San Francisco-based startup in a post on the Twitter blog.

Stone said the advertising service, called "Promoted Tweets," will allow businesses and organizations to highlight their 140-character-or-less messages known as "tweets" to a wider group of users.

He said a number of companies, including Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America, had signed up to take part in the first phase of the advertising program.

Stone acknowledged that Twitter has been slow to add a money-making aspect to the service.

But he said the four-year-old company, which has survived on tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding, "wanted to optimize for value before profit."

"Stubborn insistence on a slow and thoughtful approach to monetization - one which puts users first, amplifies existing value, and generates profit has frustrated some Twitter watchers," he admitted.

Stone said "tweets" sponsored by advertisers will be featured at the top of Twitter.com's search results pages with only one "promoted tweet" being displayed per page.

"Promoted Tweets will be clearly labeled as 'promoted' when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they will first exist as regular tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand," he said.

Stone said "Promoted Tweets" will need to "resonate with users."

"That means if users don't interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear," he said.

Stone said "Promoted Tweets" will eventually be allowed to be shown in the many applications for using Twitter made by outside software developers.

Twitter has allowed Google and Microsoft to index Twitter messages in their search engines for an undisclosed sum of money but the advertising service unveiled on Tuesday is the company's first serious money-making venture.

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