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Twitter Unleashes First Promoted Trending Topic: Toy Story 3

Twitter Unleashes First Promoted Trending Topic: Toy Story 3

Twitter's First Sponsored Trending Topic
Twitter users logging in today had mixed reactions to a novel new sight on one of the hottest social media outlets to begin dabbling its toes in the waters of ad revenue: an inconspicuous little golden box with the words “Promoted.” The sea changing graphic accompanied a link to the Toy Story 3 trending topic, making Disney Pixar Twitter’s official first customer for their promoted trending topic program. According to CNN, getting Toy Story 3 to show up in that right-hand column inorganically (i.e. without meeting the discussion volume threshold that would land it in the hot trends normally) cost “tens of thousands” of dollars. It’s still too soon to say whether Disney Pixar’s investment was worth it, but as far as Twitter’s efforts, it’s arguable that the rollout of promoted trends was a success.
Why? One need only consider the backlash to Google Buzz or Facebook’s myriad privacy policy tweaks to see the opposite of a success. Those moves, when sprung on an unsuspecting social media audience, were met with impassioned and furious backlash. Twitter’s promoted tweets, however, have received a range of responses—from tepid and apathetic, to declarations that the model is “ingenious” from Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore and, of course, wary detractors who fear that this first promoted Twitter trend places us atop a slippery slope that will ultimately change the dynamics of the social media platform.
Perhaps the absence of a unanimously negative backlash is a dubious distinguisher of success, but when it comes to monetizing communities that are ferociously driven by a mass populace, avoiding a massive alienation of audience is no small feat. The Twitter community’s tacit acceptance of promoted trending topics signals that it’s been pulled off in a non-intrusive, non-interruptive manner. In short, it’s something that we can live with. It doesn’t betray our privacy or disillusion us to the genuineness of the content that we view. Of course, paying to have sponsored messages incorporated into organic results is not new. For example, BP made the controversial move of buying up the search term “oil spill” in order to get its message bumped to the top of the search results. Sequestered in a yellow box proclaiming it a sponsored result, savvy users would never mistake it for a genuine top hit, much in the same way that most news junkies wouldn’t mistake a corporate press release for a piece of journalism. Still, BP’s willful attempt to control the message—an endeavor which has kept public relations departments busy for decades—has some web users questioning where the line between advertising and search is drawn.
BP's Sponsored Oil Spill Google Result
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