Twitter is going where Facebook and much of social media have gone before: to the land of paid advertisers, brand placement and targeted ads. The social networking site let it slip this week that it has begun testing technology that would allow advertisers to target users based on who they are following and what type of information they are searching for.
What this means for Tweeters is that if you’re following @CocaCola’s tweets, for instance, you might get an ad for a new Coke drink; if you’re following @DeltaAirlines, you might get an ad for a new flight price or new destination.
The development was revealed by Shiva Rajaramn, Twitter’s product manager, at an ad conference in London on Tuesday. “Who you follow is a good indicator of what you are interested in,” Rajaraman said. “As we move forward, we are going to implement targeting mechanisms that allow people to engage their audience in that way.”
Rajaramn stressed the system was still in its early, experimental stages and that Twitter had not yet even approached advertisers to sell targeted ads.
The news is the latest in a string of big launches for the four year old, California-based company though, coming on the heels of a new interface launched last week, new application procedures emailed to users over the weekend and the April launch of “promoted tweets,” which show brand messages when people search for a particular keyword.
Not so great news for Twitter was the Twitter worm that quickly spread over the site on Tuesday morning, prompting users to unknowingly send messages and direct followers to Japanese porn sites.
With Tweeters all a-twitter over safety and privacy issues, Rajaraman stressed that users’ personal details will not be shared with advertisers. He also elaborated that Twitter would not sell lists of usernames to advertisers, and that only tweets that are replied to or shared by many people will be included in the system.