Twitter expands advertising to a much broader audience

It unveils "interest targeting," in which advertisers can pay to put tweets in front of users based on their interests. That's potentially a much larger group than advertisers could previously address.

Twitter is preparing to unleash more ads on its users, whether they follow particular brands or not.

The microblogging service announced the launch of "interest targeting" for its advertisers, which will allow them to put paid tweets before a much larger group of users than before. Previously, brands could only place promoted tweets in the streams of their followers and other users Twitter deemed "similar" to those followers.

Now, however, Twitter will provide advertisers with 350 "interest categories" whose top-tier sections include groupings such as home and garden, sports, investing, pets, politics and more. Twitter itself determines which categories users fit into via its "interest graph" -- Twitter's own proprietary chart of user connections and relationships.

Advertisers can also tailor a campaign around individual accounts, at least in an indirect sort of way. Basically, an advertiser can specify certain @usernames, and Twitter will promote their tweet to all users who have interests similar to those of the @username followers. It's not quite targeting the followers of each @username, though you'd expect such campaigns to include most, if not all of them.

Twitter also said it will make it cheaper to advertise. The company sells its ads via auction, and until now had set the minimum bid for an "engagement" at 50 cents. Twitter has now dropped that price to one cent.

About the author

David Hamilton is the assistant managing editor of CNET News. He has been writing and editing business and tech coverage for about two decades -- the majority of that at the Wall Street Journal in both Tokyo and San Francisco. He is a two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club award and has written for numerous magazines and blogs, including Slate, Science, VentureBeat, CBS Interactive's BNET, California Lawyer and the New Republic.


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