Twitter's new pitch to brands: Turn everyday fan tweets into ads

Twitter is developing an ad product that would put tweets from everyday users into brands’ campaigns on the platform.

Twitter will offer a new service that makes the platform easier for advertisers to collect tweets related to their products and then promote the content in their Twitter ad campaigns, according to sources, through a new ad unit. Advertisers were given a glimpse of the content-rights management system at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, the sources said.

The new product is based on what Twitter is calling a “brand enthusiast gallery,” which will house a repository of brand-related tweets for advertisers to pick through. Twitter will direct message the author of the tweet and ask permission on behalf of a brand to use the tweet before reposting it, said an ad agency executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions with Twitter were private.

The ad unit is a standard tweet from an advertiser on top of a carousel of related tweets from users.

Twitter declined to comment for this story.

Advertisers typically rely on celebrities and influencers to promote their products in tweets, and there are a number of advertising platforms and agencies that specialize in those types of social sponsorship deals.

“This gives brands the ability to tweet recommendations from everyday users near you versus a celebrity,” said another source with direct knowledge of the new ad product.

The idea behind promoting everyday users is that they could be considered trusted voices on social media. A recommendation from an unpaid regular person in the same city could hold more weight than, say, a paid Web personality.

“Oftentimes the least sexy pieces can be the most important,” said David Berkowitz, CMO at MRY. “Twitter getting the rights management piece down is a huge help, because for anything in social, lawyers play such a big role.”

At CES last week, in addition to the regular product demonstrations, Twitter executives met with agencies and brands about its upcoming roadmap, which included the brand enthusiast galleries.

Twitter also showed off new video editing software, sources said. The editing tool is offered through SnappyTV, the video company acquired by Twitter in 2014.Brands can use the service to take longer videos and shorten them to better fit Twitter and Vine, sources said. The tool helps create six-second video clips.

“You can take your favorite six seconds of any commercial and turn it into a Twitter ad,” the ad agency executive said.

Twitter has focused on upgrading the advertising experience on the platform, and encouraging brand engagement among users is a key part of the recent strategy. Just this week, Twitter launched “conversational ads,” which target brand fans and prompt them to interact with campaigns. This new ad unit is a sign that Twitter is intent on capitalizing on product-related chatter on the platform.