Twitter Expands Ads to Companies You Don't Follow
Twitter caused a small uproar when it decided in April 2010 to allow companies to send ads to its followers. Now the company is expanding those plans by showing ads to users who aren't following a company.
Expect a slightly larger uproar.
To be fair, Twitter won't start indiscriminately sending ads to just anybody. Instead, the new plan, called "Promoted tweets to users like your followers," will analyze the followers of a given company's feed, then send ads to those users who aren't following, but have similar interests and friend lists. In essence, it expands the audience of any ad slightly, instead of carpet-bombing the entire Twitterverse .
This kind of targeted advertising is very attractive to companies because they are more likely to be seen by people who would be interested, and users are more likely to see ads for things they want. However, this move still draws criticism from Twitter users and industry experts alike because it shows Twitter is moving deeper into an advertising model, and the promoted tweets program could give way to even heavier advertising in the future.
The program isn't in place yet, and Twitter hasn't even explained to potential advertisers how it plans to identify users who are similar to a company's followers. Once in place, it will operate much like the current system, with tweets from advertisers given special significance in the user's timeline.