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Twitter to put ads where people without accounts can see them

[SAN FRANCISCO] Twitter Inc is finding ways to advertise to people who view tweets on its website without having an account, seeking to prove to Wall Street that its business can thrive even as membership growth slows.

Promoted tweets - ads that appear intermittently throughout users' timelines when they're logged in - will now start to show up when Web surfers click through to a posting or profile on Twitter via tweets in Google search results or news stories, the company said.

More than 500 million people visit Twitter every month without having an account, the company has said, yet marketers were only able to buy campaigns that reached the 320 million monthly active users who log into their timelines. By rolling out promoted tweets to these additional visitors, the company is expanding its advertising audience to more than 800 million potential consumers, Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain said.

"There are only a handful of companies that can offer that on the Internet," Bain said. "This is an audience of 500 million they haven't been able to touch before." Twitter has defended its user base, which is about a fifth the size of Facebook's, by saying that its content is more broadly distributed to non-members through news sites, television and Google. Still, investors have balked at the company's slowing user growth, sending its shares down 32 per cent this year. The push to advertise more widely could give weight to Twitter's argument that its user numbers aren't the whole story.

Twitter has added other options for advertisers beyond its main site this year. There are ways to advertise on various third-party mobile applications that use Twitter's MoPub marketplace, for example. The company also distributes promoted tweets through media partnerships with Yahoo Japan and Flipboard, the news-reading app.

Bain said the company's 500 million logged-out users tend to end up on its site by clicking on a tweet in Google search, through a link in an e-mail or text message, or via an embedded tweet in a news article. That number of outside visitors is growing, Bain said, though he wouldn't give an update to the figure, which was first released in November 2014.