Twitter opens self-service ads to everyone

Previously only available on an invite basis, the site is letting any US business sign up for its ads platform

Twitter is expanding its self-service advertising platform so that any business in the US can pay the site to promote its accounts and tweets.

Twitter first opened its self-service platform in March 2012 to American Express card members and merchants. Now, with the quality of feedback the site has received from thousands of small businesses and people who have used the tool, "we're ending our invite-only period and opening signups for our self-service ad platform to all users in the United States," Ravi Narasimhan, revenue product manager at Twitter, said Tuesday in a blog post.

Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts comprise the core of the platform, which are designed to help businesses amplify their tweets and gain new followers, respectively. Promoted Tweets are priced on a "cost-per-engagement" basis, so that companies only pay when a user retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites the tweet. Twitter uses similar engagement signals to place the tweet only in certain people's feeds.

With Promoted Accounts, Twitter looks at the company's current followers and searches for people with similar interests, and recommends matches in that person's "who to follow" section. Companies then pay Twitter when someone follows their account using the tool. The tools let users target specific countries, regions or metropolitan areas.

Some enhancements have also been built into Twitter's Promoted Products, such as better ad targeting and reporting, Twitter said. In March for instance, the site rolled out more granular breakdowns in campaign reporting, so advertisers can see how different audience segments engage with their tweets and accounts by device, location, gender and interest.

Also, less than two weeks ago Twitter announced a new feature to let advertisers place Promoted Tweets in users' timelines based on specific keywords within tweets, rather than just engagement signals.

The site has gradually been beefing up its advertising features over the years. The most recent expansion comes as Twitter faces rising pressure to further monetize its services as rumors grow surrounding an eventual IPO for the site.

Twitter originally launched Promoted Tweets in 2010. "Over the years, we've resisted introducing a traditional Web advertising model because we wanted to optimise for value before profit," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said at the time.

Nothing changes under Tuesday's expansion for businesses who already use the site's self-service tools, Twitter said. New users can sign up for the platform at business.twitter.com by answering a set of questions about how they want to target their accounts.

"Whether you're just building your presence on Twitter, or you've already received access to our self-service ad platform, we've got the right tools," the company said.

For larger brands, Twitter offers a full-service platform, which features more advanced targeting and personalised one-on-one support for planning campaigns.

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