Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Big Media Loves Promoted Trends, Twitter’s Big-Dollar Digital Billboards

twitter billboard cannesTwitter has been building up its ad business for three years, but early on it figured out that it had a hit with “Promoted Trends.” That’s the ad unit that lets a brand occupy the top spot on Twitter’s “Trends” list for a day; Twitter recently started asking $200,000 a day for the privilege.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why this works — while “Promoted Tweets,” the format the company describes as its “atomic unit” of its ad business, requires a lot of testing and experimentation, buying a trend for the day is a familiar concept for ad buyers.

Anyone who logs on to Twitter for the day will see the promotion, which makes it roughly similar to a homepage takeover on Yahoo or YouTube – it’s a digital billboard.

So who’s buying?

A one-month survey, conducted by CNBC social media strategist Eli Langer, offers some clues. By Langer’s count, Twitter sold 26 promoted trends in the U.S. in the last 32 days — at rate-card prices, that $5.2 million, plus whatever the advertisers paid for in promoted tweets to support the campaign (bear in mind that Twitter sells trends in many other territories worldwide).

Nearly half of those came from Big Media companies pushing movies and TV shows; another chunk came from food-and-beverage marketers.

Thursday (3/7): No Promoted Trend
Friday (3/8): #TheNextBigThing (Samsung)
Saturday (3/9): No Promoted Trend
Sunday (3/10): #TheBible (History Channel)
Monday (3/11): #FeedTheBeat (Taco Bell)
Tuesday (3/12): No Promoted Trend
Wednesday (3/13): #BurtWonderstone (Warner Brothers)
Thursday (3/14) #501s (Levi’s)
Friday (3/15) #TheCallMovie (Sony Pictures)
Saturday (3/16) #3dollarsub (Subway)
Sunday (3/17) No Promoted Trend
Monday (3/18) #BatesMotel (A&E)
Tuesday (3/19) #TheHobbit (The Hobbit Movie)
Wednesday (3/20) #HotNSpicy (McDonald’s)
Thursday (3/21) #BracketBusters (University of Phoenix)
Friday (3/20) #NickyFlash (AT&T)
Saturday (3/23) #RallyCry (Capital One)
Sunday (3/24) No Promoted Trend
Monday (3/25) #Blackberry10 (Blackberry)
Tuesday (3/26) #ItsNotComplicated (AT&T)
Wednesday (3/27) #NYIAS (Toyota)
Thursday (3/28) #TheHost (Twilight Movie)
Friday (3/29) #GiJoeRetaliation (Possibly a few production companies via The Rock’s Twitter account)
Saturday (3/30) #OrphanBlack (BBC America)
Sunday (3/31) #TheWalkingDead (AMC)
Monday (4/1) #AprilFools (Jockey )
Tuesday (4/2) #twEATfor1K (Wendys)
Wednesday (4/3) #BoBSantigoldLive (Vitamin Water)
Thursday (4/4) No Promoted Trend
Friday (4/5) #EvilDead (Sony)
Saturday (4/6) #FinalFour (Capital One)
Sunday (4/7) #MadMen (AMC)


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald