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Next Generation Advertising: iAds and Promoted Tweets

When both Apple and Twitter announced new advertising platforms, I admit, I got more than a little nervous. One of the things I love about Twitter and my mobile apps is that I can engage with the brands I love without companies pushing their products and services on me. I wondered, in a time where genuine engagement and free content reign, how will people respond to these new ad platforms?

Engagement advertising
Advertising is one area that seemed to stubbornly resist the engagement that marks today’s online experience. Advertisers used the same model for online advertising that they used on TV, radio, print, and other traditional media: interrupt whatever content I’m enjoying and sell, sell, sell. iAds and promoted tweets are notable for their attempt to redefine this concept of advertising.

iAd allows advertisers to display their interactive and video content full-screen within an iPhone app. When you consider that the average user spends over 30 minutes a day using apps on their phone, you see how that can easily add up to a lot of impressions for advertisers.

Promoted tweets
Promoted tweets are paid tweets that appear among the user-generated content on Twitter. They’ve already started appearing at the top of search results. Soon they’ll show up in your Twitter stream and in third-party apps used to organize a user’s stream like TweetDeck (my favorite) and Tweetie.


Instead of pushing their marketing messages, iAd and promoted tweets look for ways to connect with their audiences by offering valuable content. Steve Jobs has said his goal for iAds is to raise the bar on mobile advertising, which “sucks,” by creating ads that offer “interaction and emotion.” In other
words, he wants the ads to start building a relationship with the people they’re trying to reach…like me.

In Twitter’s case, the pricing structure for promoted tweets rewards ads that offer users value. They’re calling this “resonance,” and they’re basing an ad’s resonance on how much it is retweeted, clicked
on, or marked as a favorite. If an ad falls flat with tweeters, it will disappear from the stream. By setting up their platform to work this way, Twitter is effectively telling advertisers that your money is no good here if you don’t respect our community and contribute to our conversations.

For companies that want to cultivate stronger relationships with their audiences, iAd and promoted tweets could be a great way to connect. But, to be successful, advertisers will have to follow a key
tenet of social media: give us something of value. Apple and Twitter, we’re watching.

What do you think of iAds and promoted tweets? Are you considering them as part of your marketing mix?

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