Posted February 17, 2012 7:52 am by with 0 comments

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Twitter has been working up to its more broadly offered self serve ad platform for a while now. To this point, there are about 100 advertisers that have been allowed to use the system but Twitter is about to expand that capability significantly as it looks to make 2012 a big year. This strategy is part of a larger plan for the social media company to reach the election year groups and international advertisers as well. It’s starting to look like Twitter plans to make some money.

AdAge reports

Starting tonight, American Express cardmembers and merchants can register to use the platform on a first-come, first-serve basis and also receive $100 in advertising credits to put toward bidding on promoted tweets and promoted accounts — hopefully whetting their appetites for more. Twitter had begun the roll-out of self-serve, which lets advertisers make electronic payments instead of being invoiced by the sales team, in mid-November with a group of fewer than 20 advertisers and ultimately expanded the group to about 100.

In announcing the program Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was firing up the hype machine with statements like

“So many hundreds of thousands and even millions of small businesses have been using Twitter effectively for years already, so by opening up our ad platform to all these folks as a mechanism for them to amplify the value they’re already creating,” he said.

While it can be said that those numbers are using Twitter, the idea that the service is being used EFFECTIVELY by those numbers is a bit of a stretch. Oh well. His job is pimp the service right so what’s a little hyperbole amongst friends?

The American Express angle of this whole deal is interesting as well because the credit card company has been pushing hard into the small business world recently. Using Twitter as another springboard will only help to grow this reputation as small business’ friend.

Just a reminder. This is the time to sign up for the service. It won’t be going live until the end of March according to the AdAge article. In this day and age of hype trumping reality you have to know when something like this kind of event is actually happening otherwise you could get yourself in a tizzy for no real reason. Of course, if you are Twitter hearing that you can safely say “Mission Accomplished”.

So what’s the potential downside? There is plenty. For advertisers its the general level of acceptance by Twitter users to ads. Once they start to become ubiquitous the user base will respond. Right now the impact of Twitter ads to the user experience is nominal but in order to service as many advertisers as they seem to anticipate the user experience is likely to change.

There is also the problem of abuse. Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer’s principal analyst notes

“One of the big challenges that Twitter was going to face was keeping rogue advertising or spammers from overrunning the systems, and by partnering with American Express and focusing at first on this small subset, it provides an easier roll-out for Twitter,” she said.

So get ready for the truly commercial Twitter. How do you feel about this as a Twitter user? As a business using Twitter to promote your business? I suspect those might be two very different answers.