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The AP is selling ads in its tweets, but Twitter doesn’t mind

Celebrities have been selling tweets to advertisers for years now. Now the Associated Press is giving it a try.

The Associated Press is selling ad space in its 1.5 million-follower main Twitter feed. The wire service is sending out two sponsored tweets per day for the duration of this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And Twitter was quick to respond, both negatively:

and positively:

AP’s first sponsored tweet (or “SPONSORED TWEET,” for emphasis) went out Monday afternoon with a link to Samsung’s livestream of the conference:

If there was opposition to the move, it didn’t lead to any mass exodus of Twitter followers; AP media relations manager Erin Madigan White said the @AP account saw a pretty typical daily increase of a couple hundred followers today. The wire says the deal is part of an advertising expansion that will focus on mobile and social media and that it has built internal guidelines to make sure its advertising and editorial roles don’t overlap.

The AP is not the first news service to attempt to turn their Twitter feed into a revenue stream — one plenty of celebrities have also tapped, with various Kardashians getting thousands per tweet. Slate sold sponsored tweets to Samsung back in 2011, as BuzzFeed recalled, and a number of local papers, including the Hartford Courant and the Times Picayune have also given it a go.

Back in 2010, Twitter banned the third-party insertion of ads into third-party Twitter apps. But Twitter’s policy says sponsored tweets like AP’s are okay as long as they are “manually posted or approved” — that is, not automated.

But those rules could change, as Twitter’s have a number of times before. Twitter offers its own Promoted Tweets and other advertising products; Samsung advertises through those, too. Some, like BuzzFeed’s John Hermann, said they wouldn’t “be surprised to see Twitter crack down” on feed-by-feed ad deals.

But a Twitter spokesperson said “as long as it’s not spammy, it’s permitted,” and that moves like AP’s don’t threaten Twitter’s ad services offer, like more detailed information about targeting or clicks. And there’s “only so much inventory that AP has” — and Twitter has a firehose.

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Joseph Lichterman    April 22, 2014
Four-year-old startup Benzinga is growing thanks to a free consumer site, a paid news wire, and online financial service marketplace.
  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think a tweet promoted via AP might be a better alternative that twitter’s own promoted tweets in some cases. I can’t see twitter continuing to allow this but perhaps a shared revenue agreement between them and the various tweet outlets can be managed.

  • Paul Watson

    Surprised Twitter have officially said it is ok.

    What is the benefit to the advertiser though? The stats ( show just 682 click-throughs on the link in that sponsored Tweet.

  • Jared Lowell

    I think a draw could be that a person receiving the message already has interest in receiving the AP’s (or whoever else) tweets. That person might be more likely to pay attention to it, whether or not they are not more likely to actually interact with it, giving the message useful exposure.

  • zhanghan
  • Paul Watson

    Good point, exposure is what you’d hope to get from 1.5 million @AP followers. But then the message has to be more “exposure” geared, it has to have a message in the Tweet itself. That sponsored Tweet was all about action and it didn’t get much.

  • Ray Sarracino

    I think AP is trying to sneak one past the goalie. Basically, AP owns their Twitter real estate. They are selling their Twitter real estate as news. Their news space is now of questionable credibility. Is it news? Is it an ad?