Ads will now appear in your Twitter stream, the company announced in a blog post today. Annoying advertisements interrupting the pure Twitter stream free of paid promotion (even if heavy on self-promotion)? Cue the outrage. Wait, where's that outrage? So far criticism as been mild or nonexistent. "It's not the full-fledged ad invasion that you might be fearing," explains Techland's Jared Newman. And that may exactly be the point. The last few times Twitter introduced advertising onto their service, there were howls of outrage. Back in March Twitter quickly nixed an earlier attempt, the QuickBar, an addition to their mobile app, which would show users sponsored trending topics. Tweeters hated on it, deeming it the #dickbar. Twitter completely removed the QuickBar from its app.
But if the microblogging network ever wants to make serious money, it is going to have to convince users to accept seeing advertising in some forms. And tweets popping up in your feed makes the most sense. This newest foray into ads, though, seems more like a step one than a final product, primarily because many people won't notice a difference at all. You will only see ad-tweets if you use Twitter's web site (so not on TweetDeck or their own apps) and even then it will be only from brands you already follow and the "Promoted Tweets" will only show up when your view your feed in a browser. The ads will also move down feeds as new tweets arrive. ZDNet's Rachel King explains."Rather than staying in the feed according to the time the particular Promoted Tweet was actually published, said Tweet will appear at the top or as near as can be to the top when a user logs in and checks his or her Twitter feeds." And even if you don't like what you see, you can nix the content, it's pleasant, argues Gizmodo's Mat Honan: "You can banish them with just a click. It's quite smart and unobtrusive."
Given all the steps Twitter is taking to make sure that people don't see ads that annoy them, Advertising Age's Edmund Lee wondered via tweet, "So Twitter just duped companies to pay to tweet to the people who already follow them?"
Twitter took this less intrusive approach, not only as a reaction to previous failings, but also to get Tweeters used to the idea of in stream ads. This strategy likely won't provoke the outrage of the #dickbar, Newman guesses, but can they go even further with ads? "The question is how far Twitter can expand its advertising efforts without crossing that line again." To avoid another vulgar hashtag catastrophe, they should tread carefully.