Twitter Unveils Self-Serve Advertising Platform for Small Businesses

Twitter and American Express PartnershipLast June, we covered the introduction of Twitter’s automated ad-buying system that was supposed to open the floodgates for advertisers on this micro blog. Nearly ten months later, this new self-service platform on Twitter has become available to a “select group of small businesses,” according to Mashable. This group can begin using Twitter’s self-service platform to put together promoted tweets and promoted accounts.

This is another step forward in Twitter’s seemingly interminable march towards building a robust advertising platform. Although Twitter is a private company and does not disclose advertising revenue, eMarketer estimates that Twitter’s overall revenues, most of which come from advertising, will total just under $260 million. Compare this to Google, which brought in $10.58 billion in revenues in Q4 alone and the differences between the two tech titans’ ability to make money (re: advertising capabilities) is stark. The recently turned 6-year old Twitter has eons to go before being compared to Google in the same sentence (although I just did this). With that being said, this is a step in the right direction for the company’s nascent self-service ad-buying platform.

To begin, “Twitter is offering $100 in free ads to the first 10,000 small businesses that register with an American Express card,” according to Intuit’s Small Business Blog, citing Twitter’s partnership with AmEx. Those who aren’t AmEx cardholders will have to wait until the self-service platform rolls out to everyone, at which point an additional 10,000 advertisers will be allowed into the platform, eventually allowing for non-AmEx members. This is a departure (and in our opinion, a major breakthrough for small businesses) from Twitter’s original offering that required minimum budgets and long-term commitments. Conducted through Twitter’s sales team, this platform’s initial advertising offerings precluded small businesses from testing this platform due to the scale and budget needed to set up an account.

American Express will notify the first batch of small businesses that have access to the self-serve platform beginning Tuesday, March 27. This is just the latest in a string of partnerships AmEx has formed with social media platforms, including Foursquare and Facebook. This announcement comes four months after Twitter opened up its self-serve advertising platform to a “handful of users,” according to Mashable. This also comes less than three weeks after AmEx launched a program that offers discounts for tweets and nearly 5 months after AmEx teamed with Google to launch My Business Story, a contest to help small businesses make a professional quality video.

For those unaware of Twitter’s ad offerings, below are their two units (source: Mashable):

  • Promoted Accounts: suggest a brand’s Twitter account to users with interests similar to those who are already following the brand.
  • Promoted Tweets: take an existing tweet from a brand’s account that is inspiring a ton of engagement and promotes it in Twitter search results.

Small businesses pay only after a user has engaged with their tweet, which includes when their account is followed.

This announcement certainly moves Twitter in a direction and an area where Google enjoys a ton of success: an automated platform for advertisers of all shapes, sizes and objectives that brings advertising dollars into the young company’s coffers. In Google’s case, their entire business model is predicated on search advertising (although they have expanded in recent years into cell phones, demand side platforms and social).

Time will tell if Twitter is able to scale this self-service platform and enjoy success akin to Google’s Adwords platform for search marketers. Do you think the self-service platform will grow and be successful? If given the chance, how many of you would set up an account this week? Please leave your thoughts below in the Comments section.

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