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7/7/2010
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Twitter Launches Earlybird Ads

Advertisers can pay to post discounts on products and services on the microblogging site's bargain hunting feed.

Twitter hopes to catch the worm -- and earn some revenue -- with Earlybird Exclusive Offers, an ongoing series of time-restricted deals, sneak peeks, and events promoted by the newly launched @earlybird Twitter account.

The microblogging site is working with advertisers to retweet offers designed specifically for the Twitter community, according to Twitter. Participating advertisers determine the terms of each offer, including availability, amount, and price, Twitter said. The strategy is similar to one used by sites such as Woot and Gilt, both of which offer discounted products on a one-time basis.

"You will see the @earlybird Tweets if you follow the @earlybird account. Like any other account, you can follow and unfollow @earlybird at your whim," Twitter said. "You may also see these offers if someone you follow retweets an @earlybird tweet."

Like other retweets, @earlybird missives will clearly indicate the original author, the site said. Offers are time-sensitive and may also be limited in number, Twitter cautioned. The microblogging company earns revenue from advertisers, it said.

Although initial campaigns will be national or global brands, Twitter hinted that future advertising promotions could be localized or personalized.

"At first, many of the advertising partners will be large, international brands or focused on the U.S. market. As @earlybird grows beyond this first early phase, so will the deals in different places," the company said. "We're starting with U.S.-wide offers but will explore location-based deals in the future."

In addition, Twitter is looking into personalized advertising for users interested in music or fashion. "We're thinking about you, too," Twitter said.

In April, Twitter kicked-off its Promoted Tweets ad program with partners such as Starbucks, Best Buy, and Virgin America.

"The idea behind Promoted Tweets is that we want to enhance the communications that companies are already having with customers on Twitter," said Twitter COO Dick Costolo, at the time.

A month later, Twitter stopped accepting all other third-party ads.

"Third-party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created. They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform," Costello said in a company blog in May. "The basis for building a lasting advertising network that benefits users should be innovation, not near-term monetization."

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