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:
This is a good way to ensure I don’t follow your twitter account: ap.org/Content/Press-…
— RB (@prairiehippo) January 7, 2013
Would you work for a news organization that allows sponsored tweets in its main feeds? To self-disclose: Hell yes.
— Michael Roston (@michaelroston) January 7, 2013
AP’s first sponsored tweet (or “SPONSORED TWEET,” for emphasis) went out Monday afternoon with a link to Samsung’s livestream of the conference:
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 7, 2013
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.