Twitter scales up advertising through API access tools

The site's new program will allow for targeted advertising across platforms

Twitter is aiming to give marketers more control in how they advertise on the site by giving them access to its API through third-party service companies.

The program is based on Twitter's Ads API (application programming interface), which the microblogging service has been testing since January to let advertisers better target their ads across platforms and devices, and to give them a fuller set of options to manage their advertising on Twitter, the company said.

"With the Ads API, marketers now have more tools in their arsenal to help them deliver the right message, to the right audience, on the desktop and on mobile devices -- all at scale," April Underwood, Twitter's product manager, revenue, said Wednesday in a blog post announcing the program.

The Ads API program builds on Twitter's Promoted Tweets, which lets companies pay for sponsored tweets that appear in users' timelines. Twitter first launched Promoted Tweets in 2010 within search results for certain keywords and in 2011 expanded it to people's timelines.

Twitter also makes money through commercial accounts, which allow businesses to pay for an account in return for analytics tools and the ability for more than one person to post to the same account.

Ads API will not change the appearance of ads, their frequency or the number of ads users see, Twitter says. "This announcement just makes it easier for marketers to work with us using popular third-party campaign management platforms," said Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser. "It's a new option in how to buy them," he said in an email.

Adobe, HootSuite, Salesforce.com, SHIFT and TBG Digital are the program's first five beta partners, who are in the early stages of building campaigns based on the platform and are offering advertising features to some of their clients with the API access.

Adobe, for instance, was able to grow its Twitter follower base by 63 percent for its clients, which include Levi Strauss and Threadless, using its Adobe Media Optimizer ad platform, the company reported Wednesday.

Salesforce.com, meanwhile, is launching a new social advertising platform with the Ads API designed to allow marketing managers to manage their Twitter advertising alongside other existing social marketing programs.

Twitter will be adding more partners, agencies and clients over time throughout the beta launch, the company said. "This is just the start of our efforts that will give advertisers more choice," said Prosser.

Twitter's Ads API program comes as social media companies look for new ways to increase revenues as more users migrate to mobile devices. Both Facebook and LinkedIn already offer API programs for advertisers.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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