twitter-advertising
After appointing Rishi Jaitly to head Twitter in India, the company is now looking to expand its advertising business in the country: Komli Media has got the mandate for selling Promoted Products (essentially, advertising on Twitter) in India, Twitter has confirmed to MediaNama. This deal is not surprising since India is home-base for Komli, and the company already has a partnership with Twitter for South East Asia, covering Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. At that time, we’d asked why Komli’s mandate doesn’t include India. Now it does. Komli also has the mandate for selling premium advertising for Facebook and Zynga in the country.

What Twitter did not confirm, though, were the rates at which Komli is selling Twitter’s Promoted Products in India. From sources, we’ve learned that Komli is pitching three options to advertisers:

– Promoted Trends are priced at Rs 5.5 Lakhs (around $9130) for 24 hours. The hashtag chosen by the brand using this promoted trend appears at the top of trending topics for a period of 24 hours, and while most hashtags are dynamic, the promoted hashtag gets 100% share of voice, and always appears on top for a 24 hour period. Consumers that click on the hashtag are taken to a page with that conversation, and it can feature a promoted tweet at the top. Twitter pitches this as an option to be used for big launches and announcements.

– Promoted Accounts: In the ‘who to follow’ recommendations that Twitter users see on the side, promoted accounts are shown, as a suggestion. These always appear at the top. These are available on a Cost per Follow model, but would require a minimum outlay of Rs 6 lakhs per handle ($10,000). We weren’t able to ascertain the exact cost-per-follow.

– Promoted Tweets: Twitter is pitching this as the most scalable advertising position: brands can create a tweet from their handle, adding videos, photos and other content, and then promote it using Promoted Tweets. This is sold through a Cost Per Engagement model, and brands pay only when someone engages with the embedded content, or chooses to retweet it, favorite it or view the photo or video. Twitter has analytics for tracking this, and offers a dashboard to brands. These require a minimum outlay of Rs 6 lakhs ($10,000). We weren’t able to ascertain the exact cost-per-engagement.

What About Social Media Marketers?

With Twitter offering their own branding options, will it clamp down on user experience? It doesn’t appear so. At the recent Social Media Day organized in Bangalore on Sunday, I asked Rishi Jaitly about Twitter’s policy on advertising using accounts, and the ethics of disclosures. Jaitly said that Twitter has no issues with accounts being used to market and even disclosures (such as #ad or #sponsored, which, for exampe, MediaNama uses to inform users) aren’t necessary. If users feel they are being spammed by a brand, they will unfollow them, Jailty had said. The only concern that Twitter has is of an account tweeting beyond a particular frequency limit, which Twitter then clamps down on.

In that sense, social media agencies can continue to market using Twitter without using the paid options.

However, I’m reminded of what popular Twitter user Ramesh Srivats said at the event: that branded hashtags end up dominating trending topics, and are harming Twitter and inhibiting discovery of valuable content and conversations. These are not promoted by Twitter, but mostly by brands and social media agencies trying to create buzz through contests, and they often spam user timelines as well. Twitter isn’t able to monetize most of this, but it might want to address this issue using frequency caps.

Corrigendum: a previous version of this post incorrectly mentioned Rs 6 lakhs as $1000. It should have been $10,000.