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Twitter's Cruel Test: If Boring Ads Get Yanked, Who Will Make the Cut?

Twitter's new "promoted tweets" advertising platform will be a challenge for some brand managers because it will force them to be creative and interesting whether they like it or not. Boring ads will be removed from the site, founder Biz Stone said in a blog post introducing the service:
... if users don't interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.
That will not sit comfortably with some brands and their agencies. For advertisers, one advantage of Twitter is that you can send your message out there and if no one cares or likes it, it doesn't really matter. Sure, some malcontents or fans may hit "reply," but until now an advertiser can say "we're on Twitter" and not worry too much about the results. There's still an old-fashioned, one-way aspect to the enterprise. And it's free.

The new model costs money and will deliver an instant ROI: If it's re-tweeted enough, the ad stays up (and you pay Twitter for the pleasure) and if no one cares it comes down (and your costs are limited). The cost-limiting aspect is really nice: Advertisers won't be able to say, as department store mogul John Wanamaker once did, that they don't know which half of their money is wasted.

But the challenge for some clients will be to become interesting enough for their ads to stay up for any length of time. This is easier said than done. I don't know exactly what deal Best Buy (BBY.N), Virgin America, Starbucks (SBUX.O), and Bravo struck with Twitter, but as of this second none of their ads display when you search for those keywords.

Insurance companies, certain packaged goods brands, personal finance services and even some car brands have chugged along for decades on advertising that has existed more as wallpaper than a functional advertising device. Now they have a test of their copy writing skills. And a good place to test new taglines.

For boring Twitter advertisers, there's even more good news: Because their sub-par offerings will die a quick death, no one will notice when they fail.



Image by Flickr user Mai Le, CC.
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