Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Twitter’s First TV Ad Is Aimed at Advertisers

Way back in the dim mists of history — and by that I mean 2007 — someone came up with the idea of using hashtags in tweets.

In fact, here is the very tweet, by Chris Messina, that is generally credited with the creation of the now widely used convention.

Long used to make long streams of tweets findable by a particular subject or to express a comment — a very early favorite was #fail — hashtags have evolved into something that Twitter would like to sell to advertisers.

Omid Ashtari, head of sports at Twitter, announced that the company ran its first-ever TV ad today, during Nascar’s 2012 Pocono 400 auto race.

in case you missed, here is @‘s first ever TV spot during today’s #NASCAR race
Omid Ashtari

As noted by Owen Thomas of Business Insider, the effort includes a new use of a Twitter hashtag that redirects to the URL, which, if my understanding of how it works is correct, will turn hashtags into something somewhat similar to Web domain names circa 1995, though obviously different in many respects. The hope, apparently, is that advertisers can be convinced to pay for Twitter-hosted pages that automatically aggregate relevant content on a particular subject.

To do that, it’s shelling out cash to advertise on Time Warner’s TNT channel during today’s race.

The move would appear to be an answer to that one great perennial question about Twitter: Having corralled 140 million-odd users, how does it intend to make money? I’m guessing we’ll hear more about this and what it all means as the week progresses, but for now, here’s the ad — one of six — that Ashtari tweeted. You can see the rest of them — there appear to be seven — on YouTube here.

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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter