Peter Kafka

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Twitter Quietly (Finally) Launches Self-Serve Ads

File under “knew it was coming but still worth noting”: Twitter has finally launched a self-serve option for its ad platform.

It’s still just in test mode, and only open to a handful of advertisers. But those who can use it can now buy ads directly via Twitter, using a credit card and a Web browser, without ever having to talk to a human being. Right now buyers can only purchase some of Twitter’s ad products — specifically “promoted accounts” and “promoted tweets” — but Twitter says that will expand over time, as it rolls out self-serve to more buyers.

This is a step that Twitter has been talking about for a long time — so long that it has had to argue with reporters who swear they saw one nearly a year ago — so it’s not earth-shaking stuff. Yesterday, for instance, when Twitter ad sales head Adam Bain disclosed it onstage during an interview at Business Insider’s Ignition conference, it didn’t seem to register.

Still, it’s a significant milestone, because if Twitter is ever going to grow into that $8 billion valuation and beyond, it’s going to have to be able to handle a huge volume of ad transactions — just like Google and Facebook. And that can only happen if small and medium-sized buyers can do it on their own.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, Bain and company are now pre-selling big dollar ad campaigns, to big brands, that will run in 2012. That kind of pre-sale is also the mark of a grown-up ad business, and while Twitter is a long way from getting there, it’s a start.

Here’s Twitter PR rep Matt Graves’s comments on self-serve, via email:

Last month, Twitter began testing self-service advertising with a handful of existing advertisers. These advertisers can now set up and run their own Promoted Products campaigns and pay via a credit card.

This is an important step in continuing to grow Twitter’s business. Our Promoted Products can help small and medium-sized businesses build their audience on Twitter and better engage with the people they want to reach.

As with all of our advertising efforts, we’re starting small, testing carefully and making improvements as we learn what works. We will slowly roll this capability out to more advertisers in the coming weeks and months.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work