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Twitter To Sell Political Ads

Twitter's homepage.
AFP/Getty Images
Twitter's homepage.

Some news, when you hear it, has an almost inevitable feel to it. For many people, such will be the case with the report Wednesday that Twitter plans to start selling political advertising.

With the social media and micro blogging giant seeking ways to boost revenues that are disproportionately small compared to its user base and Google and Facebook already deep into selling political ads, the pressure was strong for Twitter to move in this direction.

Ben Smith at Politico reported on Twitter's plans Wednesday. An excerpt:

"We've had five years to watch and observe how people are using the platform organically and we know politicians are active on the platform, and we know that consumers enjoy the messages from those politicians," Twitter's president of global revenue, Adam Bain, said in an interview. "We're excited about the election cycle, and we think that ads both in the timeline and in search are a huge opportunity."

He said Twitter's political advertising will begin with a splash, with early clients including five presidential campaigns. Though Bain declined to name the first campaigns to sign on, a source said Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are among the early advertisers.

As with Google ads, rates are determined by advertisers bidding on search terms.

The Twitterverse will be relieved to learn that the social media site doesn't plan to have the campaign ads pop up in individuals' timelines. Instead, the ads will be indentifiable as promoted tweets, trends and accounts.

As could be expected, not everyone is viewing this as progress.

: "... finally something more annoying than "Thanks for the RT!"

"Oh please, no!"

The economy generally may be stagnant but political advertising is one of the exceptions. A Moody's Investors Service analyst estimated that campaign spending in 2012 would be 9 percent to 18 percent higher than the $2.3 billion spent in 2008.

Most of that money would flow into television stations but a growing share is going to the Internet. Twitter obviously wants its piece of that.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.