Twitter is already a popular destination for political discourse, but the social network wants to beef up its involvement in politics as the 2012 election nears. This week, Twitter will begin selling political advertising in an effort to keep revenues up.
“We’ve had five years to watch and observe how people are using the platform organically and we know politicians are active on the platform, and we know that consumers enjoy the messages from those politicians,” Twitter’s president of global revenue, Adam Bain, said in an interview. “We’re excited about the election cycle, and we think that ads both in the timeline and in search are a huge opportunity.”
Twitter is eager to get a cut of the huge spending that’s necessary to reach the nation’s highest public office. These days, a presidential campaign can cost well over $1 billion.
Users of the popular microblogging platform won’t need to worry about seeing political ads inserted into their “timelines.” Instead, ads will be featured as promoted tweets that will appear when a certain term is searched for and will only appear in a campaign’s follower’s timelines when they log in. Ads may also show up as promoted trends, which enable advertisers to appear atop popular lists of “trending topics.” Finally, campaigns will also be able to promote an entire account, which suggests their accounts to users who may have similar interests.
All of these options are aimed at being less obtrusive to users. Twitter will even distinguish political ads by putting a small purple check-mark next to them when they appear. Despite these measures, Twitter believes they will still provide campaigns with the reach they’re looking for.
“People are literally searching for topics and ideas as much as they are for names of campaigns,” added Bain.
At least five presidential campaigns and party committees have reportedly signed on for the initial launch. Although Twitter has declined to name its early clients, Politico.com says Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are among the early advertisers.