Twitter has ended a test to make revenue from publishers' websites, and it highlights Google's grip on programmatic advertising

Business Insider | Jun 19, 2019, 10.59PM IST


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  • Twitter has shut down a 1-year-old program, Twitter Timeline Ads, that served ads on publishers' websites.
  • Publishers including The Street and Advance Local have experimented with the revenue-share program, which placed ads in Twitter Timelines that are embedded in the publishers' sites.
  • Twitter faces big competition in programmatic advertising from Google, and its program was a test of its ability to muscle into that business.
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Twitter has shut down a 1-year-old programmatic advertising program, Twitter Timeline Ads, that helped publishers squeeze out revenue from their tweets.

The beta program placed Promoted Tweet ads into the strings of tweets called Timelines that publishers embed in their websites.

Twitter has not pushed as aggressively into programmatic advertising as Google and other ad tech players have, and the program was a test of its ability to muscle into programmatic advertising. Twitter owns ad-tech firm MoPub, which helps app developers manage their ad inventory, but most of its revenue comes from ads served on its own site and app.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the test shut down at the end of May and that the company is no longer pitching publishers on it.

Twitter has stiff competition in programmatic advertising

Twitter faces tough competition from Google, which is deeply embedded into how programmatic ads are sold, served and managed by publishers and advertisers through its Google Marketing Platform service.

Read more: 'It would be an epic change': Marketers say Elizabeth Warren's plan to break up Google and DoubleClick could destroy digital advertising

One of Twitter's other challenges is that few publishers pull tweet feeds into their websites. While smaller publishers - think blogs and local news stations - still plug Timelines into their websites, anecdotally, the feature has lost traction in the past few years as publishers have moved to distribute content across social platforms.

According to Twitter, local and small US publishers like The Street and Advance Local - which owns sites like AL.com, OregonLive.com and Syracuse.com - started testing Timeline Ads in September. Business Insider requested comment from The Street and Advance Local.

Twitter promised publishers that the program would deliver revenue on competitive terms and an alternative revenue source to Facebook and Google. Publishers that participated in the Twitter Timelines program kept 50% of revenue, which is comparable to Facebook Watch and YouTube's 55% revenue-share programs with publishers.

Ad-tech companies OpenX and Sizmek helped Twitter sell and serve the ads in the beta program and encouraged publishers to adhere to the digital advertising industry's ads.txt initiative that is backed by the IAB Tech lab in order to participate. According to a landing page for the program that has since been deleted, Twitter planned to slot ads within the first and second tweet that appeared within Timelines. All told, the top 20 tweets in a Timeline could be monetized, Twitter said.

"We are continuing to evolve and iterate the ways in which we can work with publishers to help them generate revenue through unique real-time content monetization opportunities, on and off platform," a Twitter spokesperson said in September when the program went live with The Street.

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