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Twitter lets advertisers promote website content

The social network goes after more ad sales with a unit meant to be effective for marketers and ideally enjoyable for users.

twitter website card ad unit

Twitter is catering to marketers with a new advertising unit designed to help them better grab the attention of the 241 million members who use the social network and direct them back to specific parts of their websites.

Friday, the social network announced the "Website Card" as a way for advertisers to showcase their website content inside tweets and point audiences to any page of their site. As suggested in the pictured example, a small business can, for instance, use the unit to target coffee lovers with a little latte art and a prompt to read more.

"This card allows users to easily discover interesting content while giving advertisers the ability to drive a higher volume of URL clicks since users are able to preview an image, related context and a clear call to action in their timeline before tapping," revenue product manager Derek Dukes wrote in a blog post.

Twitter said the unit proved effective at driving quality traffic to sites for early testers like Citrix and Betabrand. The Website Card is the second new ad type to debut in the past two weeks. Twitter recently went live with a test of Facebook-like mobile install ads for app makers who want to use Twitter to boost downloads. The company is also employing the distribution potential of its MoPub ad network to give advertisers access to people on more than 1 billion devices.

The efforts are all designed to help Twitter grow advertising into a billion-dollar-plus business. When compared with peers like Google and Facebook, Twitter makes peanuts. Next week, the company will do its quarterly check-in with Wall Street, and analysts are anticipating around $241 million in revenue for the first three months of 2014. Facebook, meanwhile, brought in $2.5 billion in total revenue in the first quarter, with $2.27 billion coming from desktop and mobile ad sales.

Twitter opened Friday at $44.29, but shares are trading down almost 7 percent at $41.89 at the time of publication.