Twitter opens ad platform for small businesses -- and spammers

Twitter has launched its new ad platform for small businesses but it will need to put good checks and measures in place to stop malware being spread in 'Promoted Tweets' and 'Promoted Accounts'.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Twitter has proved that it is committed to significantly growing its revenue with the launch of its new ad platform. The platform targets small businesses who can now advertise without the need of a Twitter account manager or sales representative.

Hot on the heels of Microsoft's social ads solution, Twitter has responded with a low cost self-service ad solution of its own. In late March US based companies will be able to offer promoted tweets and accounts. It began to offer self-service ads in november 2011 to a 'handful' of businesses according to Adam Bain Chief Revenue Officer at Twitter.

Twitter has recently extended its brand pages to the UK after launching Twitter profile pages for US brands in December. Now major UK brands such as Asda, Cadbury, Sainsbury's and Sky News now have banner profile pages.

Active Engagement

American Express will give $100 in free Twitter advertising to the first 10,000 eligible card members and merchants that register for the service. This initiative will be rolled out initially in the US.

According to the terms on the site the: "program is open to American Express Cardmembers and merchants who use Twitter to tweet business news and updates to their followers and who actively engage with and respond to other Twitter users through Mentions, Retweets, and Replies.

This program is only available to businesses with a U.S. billing address that have never advertised on Twitter". Unfortunately, "not every business that registers will be eligible to receive credits".

Twitter recognises that the most effective marketing programs that they see come from 'small, local or Interet only businesses'.

Small businesses will be able to create ads based on a cost per follower or cost per engagement -- if users actively engage with the tweet, then the business will be charged. Users can be targeted based on their declared Twitter location.

Using the automatic retweet feature makes it easy for Twitter to collect stats about retweets.  It might be more complex -- and resource intensive -- chasing down the variety of quoted tweets, MTs, RT's and .'s that abound.

Malware opportunity

Spammers might have a field day too. When this service is rolled out more widely, anyone with an American Express card can pay to have Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts at the top of your tweet stream. The returns might be huge for the spammer unless careful management is applied.

Anyone who wants to spread malware could also take advantage of this. A promoted tweet somehow seems more 'credible'. People might be persuaded to click promoted links over others unless appropriate checks and measures are put in place.

Twitter might have a management nightmare on its hands when the wrong types of ads start appearing in your feeds.

Hopefully it will have the processes in place so that we don't turn away from yet another content spam service and continue to keep us hooked on our daily Twitter fix....

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