Twitter announced today that it has begun limited testing of its Promoted Tweets, announced earlier this year, in users' timelines. For starters, they're only doing this with partner Hootsuite for some users.
Later, the company says, Promoted Tweets will be available to a wider audience. They simply want to get it right before they roll it out to everyone.
"As we have done since the beginning of our Promoted product efforts, Twitter is taking a deliberate and thoughtful approach to this test," says Twitter's Matt Graves. "We're carefully looking at how Twitter users react to and engage with Promoted Tweets in the timeline. We want to display Promoted Tweets in a way that's both useful and authentic to the Twitter experience."
"During this testing period with HootSuite, we will experiment with where and when Promoted Tweets are shown in the timeline," adds Graves. "Not all HootSuite users will see Promoted Tweets and those who do may see different Promoted Tweets in different places in their timeline. As with Promoted Tweets in search, we will display Promoted Tweets in the timeline when they are relevant. Similar to our Promoted Account recommendations, we use several signals to determine a Promoted Tweet's relevance to a user, including the public list of whom they follow. We will expand the rollout only when we feel we're delivering a high-quality user experience."
A couple months ago, we talked to Zecco, another partner who has been using Twitter's Promoted Tweets. CEO Michael Raneri told us Zecco has seen an average increase of 50 percent engagement with promoted tweets versus the company's standard tweets. In some cases, he said, this increase was as much as 200 to 300 percent.
Promoted Tweets were initially only available in Twitter search. It's easy to see where these could be contextually relevant and increase user engagement here. It remains to be seen just how well they'll do in user timelines. If Twitter can get relevance right here, it could be pretty powerful.