Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter Ramps Up Self-Serve Ads, With an Assist From American Express

Twitter’s cautious entry into advertising is picking up velocity: It is finally opening up its self-serve ad platform to a large group of small advertisers.

Twitter started testing the platform late last year, with about 100 advertisers. Now it will let in another 10,000, via a promotion with American Express. Only AmEx card-holders, or merchants who accept AmEx, will be allowed to buy the ads, and AmEx will give each buyer a $100 credit to kick-start their purchases.

Twitter says it will let in more buyers throughout the year, in groups of 10,000, and that at some point the AmEx exclusivity will go away.

The self-serve platform is important to Twitter because it wants to emulate the success of Google, and now Facebook. Those companies sell big ad purchases directly to a small group of buyers, and then let lots of small marketers buy on their own, over the Web.

Twitter says it has sold ads to 3,000 marketers so far, but if the do-it-yourself plan works, that number will get much, much larger. Perhaps it will have enough to turn a profit, which I’ve been told is a possibility for the service in 2012. (I ran that one by CEO Dick Costolo last month onstage at Dive Into Media, but he wouldn’t bite.)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik