To Advertisers, Twitter's a Fledgling

Twitter Inc.’s foray into advertising is receiving mixed reviews among marketers, underscoring the challenges of turning the popular micro-blogging service into a highly profitable enterprise.

The popularity of Twitter has fueled expectations that marketers could use the service to target relevant ads to consumers interested in real-time information about breaking events and other topics. Since launching its much-anticipated advertising products in April, Twitter has signed on more than 30 big-name brands, including Coca-Cola Co. (KO), Virgin America and Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), to test them.

Some marketers say that early results are promising but that advertising on Twitter remains an experiment. Other marketers, including PepsiCo Inc.’s (PEP) beverage brands and Best Buy Co. (BBY), who tested out Twitter’s new advertising products—some without cost—haven’t made new ad buys. Marketers say they definitely aren’t ruling out advertising on Twitter in the future, but that it’s still early days and they are figuring out what works.

“The jury is out” on whether Twitter can become a home for brand advertisers, said David Cohen, an executive vice president at Universal McCann, a media-buying agency owned by Interpublic Group of Cos.

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