Twitter has launched a new service called Promoted Tweets which will let advertisers place tweets at the top of some search results.
The company said that Promoted Tweets will be displayed only for as long as they are useful to users. Only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on each search results page, and they will be clearly labelled as "promoted".
"My understanding of Promoted Tweets so far is that they will work similar to Google sponsored search," said Dirk Singer, communications adviser and co-founder of brand marketing firm Cow PR. "If they do, there will be an obvious value to businesses using them."
Promoted Tweets will also appear in users' timelines. At first they will just appear in the timelines of those who follow the particular brand, just like normal tweets. But Twitter suggested that the ad platform will be rolled out further so that Promoted Tweets will appear in users' timelines if they are deemed relevant.
This is likely to mean that they will appear in the timelines even if the user is not following the brand in question.
However, Twitter refrained from mentioning the phrase 'behavioural advertising' in the product's launch, and was vague about what the second phase would entail.
Until now, Twitter has always ruled out the use of advertisements to generate revenue on its micro-blogging site, saying that it wants to keep the interface clean and uncluttered.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone continued to recognise both factors when he launched the Promoted Tweets ad platform today.
"Over the years, we've resisted introducing a traditional web advertising model because we wanted to optimise for value before profit," he said in a blog post.
"Since all Promoted Tweets are organic tweets, there is not a single 'ad' in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn't already an organic part of Twitter. This is distinct from traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising."
Twitter said that it will discuss the offering in more detail later today at the AdAge Digital conference and at Chirp, the firm's first developer conference which begins on Wednesday.
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