World Bulletin / News Desk
Twitter Inc will begin allowing advertisers to directly target users based on the interests they reveal in their tweets, the social media company said Thursday.
No longer content to be a "dumb" bulletin board, with 400 million micro-messages posted daily, Twitter has moved to a strategy of actively sifting through what each user is reading and tweeting in order to discern every individual's interests.
Founded in 2006, Twitter is hoping to catch up to other consumer Internet companies that have found varying degrees of success by using technology to serve better-targeted ads.
For years, Google has reaped huge profits by displaying ads based on what a user searches for in its search engine, while Facebook encourages users to proactively input their "likes." But Twitter, by contrast, has long faced the challenge of indirectly inferring these preferences, something that marketers find less attractive for their needs.
In an effort to draw advertisers, the company on Thursday also slashed the minimum price of "promoted tweets" from 50 cents each to just a penny.
CEO Dick Costolo has said in recent months that his company's value lies in its ability to mine its flow of information to build "an interest graph" showing its users' preference profiles -- which could be used by marketers to deliver targeted and relevant ads.
As part of its new targeting feature, Twitter will now allow advertisers to send paid ads, in the form of tweets, to users who are interested in any of the roughly 350 topics on a list curated by Twitter itself.
For instance, sports apparel retailers can target soccer fanatics for promotions, or film distributors might send tweets directed at keen Bollywood fans.
The new offering will allow companies to reach a "very narrow, very specific and incredibly focused audience," Kevin Weil, a Twitter director of product management, said in an interview.
Twitter engineers believe they can build a compelling ad delivery platform, particularly if marketers craft ads that seem to blend in with the tone and format of the service's flow of tweets, which are seen by some 140 million monthly active users.
In building its interest graph, Twitter analyzes "a host of signals," Weil said, including which accounts a user follows, as well as the subjects of tweets that are most frequently recirculated or replied to by the user.
The company's algorithms closely evaluate the latter, giving "a direct measure of what you're interested in," Weil said.
Between 1 and 3 percent of users who see a "promoted tweet" -- a paid ad -- click on the tweet in some way. But early beta tests have shown the engagement rate to be higher when tweets are directed using its new interest-targeting tool, Weil said, while declining to discuss specific results.
Slashing the minimum bid price for ads would allow more brands to participate in its ad program but it did not reflect a lack of demand from advertisers for ads on the platform, Twitter said.
Valued at more than $8 billion but expected by analysts to make less than $300 million in revenue in 2011, Twitter has aggressively ramped up its advertising capabilities. But in streamlining its product to better show ads, the company has cracked down on how third-party services may use its content, sparking an outcry from Silicon Valley technologists who would like Twitter to remain a neutral media platform.
In protest against what they viewed as a Twitter experience increasingly corrupted by advertising, software developers in California this month launched App.net, a Twitter-like rival that is supported by a $50 membership fee rather than ads.
An agreement between the United States and Japan is crucial for setting the tone for other countries engaged in the TPP
The pipeline was closed as a precaution following the discovery of the fuel store
Unfair pricing which threatens U.S. domestic industry brings additional taxes to Turkish and Mexican companies.
With unemployment near 11 percent and growth sluggish, Valls must strike a balance between reassuring EU partners and investors about France's deficits
"Regardless of how the stand-off over Ukraine develops, one lesson is clear: excessive dependence on Russian energy makes Europe weak," Tusk argues
So far, rubber trees have been planted on only 270 hectares of land. But the project has already begun yielding rubber, said to be up to international quality standards.
Construction of the new complex comes at a time when the university is scrambling to expand its facilities to keep up with growing student numbers.
Rouhani says tackling inflation is a priority, and the rate has dropped below 35 percent as his administration introduced more conservative monetary and fiscal policies.
Long queues at public petrol stations in Sana'a, as private stations have little fuel to oil to sell
The Yue Yuen facilities in Gaobu comprise the company's biggest manufacturing centre. In addition to Adidas, it also makes shoes for Nike Inc , Saucony and other global brands
The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement. Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement
GM plans to build five more plants in China next year, as part of its efforts to ramp up manufacturing capacity there by 65 percent by 2020
Production from conflict-free mines are bagged and tagged with a barcode to make it easily traceable.
"We will further expand our capacities to be able to respond to the high market growth," Jochem Heizmann, head of VW's China operations told reporters on Saturday ahead of the Beijing auto show.
The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea's debt. It said the total debt stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, is likely to be liquidated after a Tokyo court dismissed the company's bid to resuscitate its business.