- Twitter, the social network that was a rumored takeover target for Salesforce, is selling sponsorships for its Moments feature that strings together a series of tweets that can include images, GIFs and video, according to a blog post by the company. Sponsored Moments include interstitial tweets from a company along with their branded cover image.
- The feature is now available to publishers that participate in Twitter's In-Stream Sponsorships worldwide, per TechCrunch. These new Moments can also be promoted to reach a brand's target audience using Twitter's software tools for ad targeting. The feature's goal is to establish a tight alignment between advertiser messaging and partner content with enough flexibility to customize the messaging and creative.
- Bank of America was the first brand to sponsor a Moment on the platform. On Jan. 25, the company sponsored Bloomberg's Moment highlighting its news coverage of the World Economic Forum last week in Switzerland. Twitter had previously tested the feature with other publishers and sponsors.
Twitter's recent moves indicate it is thinking about how to appeal to users, and in the process perhaps stave off declining ad revenue. The new rollout of Sponsored Moments is another way the company can help brands reach targeted audiences with content that isn't wildly intrusive, which has been a major consumer complaint that's dogged both the company and YouTube. It's not clear why Salesforce would want to buy Twitter, which has never been profitable as a public company but has taken a variety of steps to make its platform more appealing to a broader group of brand advertisers. Twitter may even report a profit when it announces Q4 2017 earnings on Feb. 8.
Sponsored Moments gives digital publishers a new way to make money from content they publish on social media, where there's a large audience but monetization remains tricky. The new ad format will be available from publisher partners that have a substantial audience, including TV networks, sports leagues and digital publishers, giving brands a way to reach a targeted audience when there is a relevant conversation taking place on social media.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is opening an investigation into a company that allegedly sold millions of fake followers to users on social media services like Twitter and Facebook. The company, Devumi, denied accusations of stealing real people's identities, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The newspaper linked the "follower factory" to several celebrity accounts in a report that included interviews with people who said their account details and profile pictures had been copied to create realistic bots.
Devumi's business and court records revealed more than 200,000 customers including reality TV stars, professional athletes and models who had purchased followers to make themselves look more popular on social media. Twitter doesn't require accounts to be associated with a real person, and also permits more automated access to its platform, making it easier to set up and control large numbers of accounts simultaneously. While Twitter doesn't appear to be guilty of any wrongdoing like stealing identities, the ability to create bots that impersonate real people raises some flags for advertisers who sponsor social influencers with thousands of followers, and it casts significant doubt on Twitter's claim that it has 330 million users worldwide.