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Twitter announced last month Promoted Tweets, its first attempt to monetize its microblogging phenomenon with ads appearing at the top of search results on Search.Twitter.com. But Izea has been marketing its own SponsoredTweets application since August.
Twitter announced last month Promoted Tweets, the social network giant’s first attempt to monetize its microblogging phenomenon with ads appearing at the top of search results on Search.Twitter.com. While analysts and critics await results, social media marketing start-up Izea has already been touting its own SponsoredTweets application since August 2009.
SponsoredTweets is a marketing program where advertisers pay Twitter members to tweet ads for them. About 5,000 clients ranging from small and large companies to high-profile celebrities use it, Izea says. “It has been the fastest-growing application that we ever launched,” says Ted Murphy, CEO of Izea, which was founded in 2006. Izea connects advertisers with publishers, which includes bloggers and tweeters, through its three applications: SocialSpark, WeReward and SponsoredTweets.
To use SponsoredTweets, advertisers set up an account on SponsoredTweets.com and provide the title of the tweet; the advertising tweet content, which is approved by the tweeter; and then keywords related to the company or individual. Tweeters also sign up for their own accounts, set their price per tweet and choose a category or have one auto-selected based on their Twitter streams. Then, the application automatically connects advertisers with Twitter users using the keywords and the users’ Twitter streams, or an advertiser can choose a tweeter. Once connected, the Twitter subscriber tweets the advertiser’s message from her own Twitter account and gets paid per tweet to do so. Anyone with a Twitter account can sign up for the program and tweet ads.
BlissLiving.com, a Los Angeles-based online e-retailer offering personalized baby gifts, launched a SponsoredTweets test campaign for personalized necklaces this Mother’s Day. With a small budget, it sent out 113 advertising tweets and reached 69,863 people. The campaign’s click-through rate was 0.4% percent. BlissLiving says it is happy with the application and results, and plans to increase its SponsoredTweet budget.
Izea uses Twitter’s API or application programming interface, to connect to the social network. And that means it has to constantly make sure it abides by Twitter’s rules. For example, with the launch of Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets, Twitter said companies could not use its API to automatically publish ads in Twitter streams. But, Twitter also says it won’t control what a user tweets. To get around Twitter’s new policy, Izea mandates that Twitter users manually type in tweets from their own Twitter accounts when sending out a sponsored Tweet.
Izea launched last week a new cost-per-click pricing option for its SponsoredTweets, as an added option to the charge per tweet fee structure. Murphy says more e-retailers are exploring the SponsoredTweets service now that it offers a new fee structure. The new platform offers advertisers the ability to better monitor and control their click-through rates and pay based on engagement, rather than to pay for every tweet sent on their behalf, he says.
Whether or not it’s a SponsoredTweet, former president of Social Media Business Council Bob Pearson, now chief technology and media officer for WCG, a creative and interactive services firm, says relevance will continue to be the driver on Twitter.
“If something really resonates, then everyone shares the tweet and you will actually get great pickup of that news,” he says.
Josh Bernoff, a senior vice president at Forrester Research Inc. who covers social and interactive marking believes Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets misses the boat by opening its ad platform to only a few prominent advertisers, such as Starbucks and Red Bull. He says the future success of Twitter is dependent on revenue from thousands of advertisers, not just the big guys. “It is looking at this in much more of a generic fashion,” Bernoff says. “The future of Promoted Tweets lies in having thousands of advertisers.” He cites Google’s AdWords’ success and notes that it was available to thousands of advertisers of all sizes from day one.
While Izea it doesn’t have the brand footprint of Twitter itself, its service allows even smaller advertisers to use the social network to spread their names. Those advertisers and tweeters that discover the small company’s offering may find it a boon for their businesses and wallets.