OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 01/14/2013 By Mark Glaser

AP sells sponsored tweets; who’s next?

The Associated Press isn’t the first to attempt to monetize its Twitter feed, but it is the most prominent news organization to do so. Naturally then, when it started sending sponsored tweets from Samsung during the Consumer Electronics Show, it drew major attention. Some of the response was critical. “Have some journalism ethics and stop with the sponsored tweets nonsense please,” wrote one follower. Others though were on the fence, or saw the experiment as a move in the right direction—something that could benefit both publishers and marketers. Todd Defren, CEO of PR firm Shift Communications, tells AdWeek, “The news outlets are crimped for cash, so they’re considering unorthodox revenue approaches. Meanwhile, brands are desperate for attention in a saturated media environment so they’ll pay a premium to gain audience share from a proven property. I’m not opposed to experimentation, but transparency is key.”

How the AP is doing it too is interesting because it’s essentially a workaround of Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets programs. As John Herrman writes for BuzzFeed, “Seeing as Samsung has also purchased official Promoted Tweets in the past, Twitter would be right to see this kind of arrangement as a threat.” And it may indeed change its rules to try to stop this practice if it gets more common. As Mathew Ingram notes for PaidContent, “The Associated Press campaign highlights one of the biggest risks for Twitter in this approach: namely, that media entities who also have relationships with advertisers will side-step the company’s program and try to take over the middleman role themselves.” For now though, a Twitter spokesperson tells Caroline O’Donovan of Nieman Lab that “as long as it’s not spammy, it’s permitted.” The AP said in a statement that it fully thought out how to integrate without crossing any lines. According to the statement, “The AP developed internal guidelines in recent months so that it may build new business models in the new media landscape without compromising its newsroom values and principles.”