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Twitter Is Now Placing Ads Within User Profiles

You may soon see promoted tweets on your friends' profiles.

Anthony Quintano for Re/code

Your Twitter profile may soon include a new decoration: Advertising.

Twitter is bringing promoted tweets, the app’s signature ad unit, to people’s profile pages as part of a new test. That means when you visit the page of another user, you may find a targeted Twitter ad waiting for you a few tweets into that user’s stream.

The ads are separated from other tweets by a small bumper that creates a break in the stream, and a label that reads “Suggested by Twitter” — you can see an example at the bottom of this post. A company spokesperson confirmed Twitter is testing the new ad placement.

“We’re experimenting with this feature, as we do with all our ad features, in order to create great experiences for our users, advertisers and partners,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Re/code.

For now, the ads only appear to users who are logged in — it’s tough to serve a targeted ad to a mystery user.

But down the road, placing ads within user profiles could be an intriguing way for Twitter to make money from its “logged out” audience, the group of people who visit Twitter or see tweets online but don’t actually have an account. These people may visit Twitter to see what their friends are saying; soon they could see an ad during that same visit.

Given Twitter’s new partnership with Google, these kinds of fly-by users may be more common going forward. The partnership means tweets will appear more prominently in search results, and, in theory, more people who aren’t logged into Twitter will soon be visiting the site.

One flaw in this plan is that profile ads will not appear on verified profiles, at least for now. Those are probably the profiles most likely to attract visitors without accounts. It’s not entirely clear why verified profiles are excluded, but it’s easy to speculate.

I’m sure a brand like Nike, which already sponsors verified athletes like LeBron James, doesn’t want to see an Adidas tweet in LeBron’s stream. Twitter may simply be avoiding the headache caused by managing those relationships.

Of course, non-verified users may not want specific products to show up as “promoted tweets” on their profile either, but avoiding that doesn’t appear to be an option.

For now, the test is live on Twitter’s Web and mobile versions for a small portion of its audience.

Twitter is now showing promoted tweets within the streams on user profiles.
Twitter is now showing promoted tweets within the streams on user profiles.

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