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Twitter search results get advertising via 'Promoted' users

Ben Gilbert, @RealBenGilbert
February 25, 2014
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There you are, leisurely perusing Twitter (as one does), when the stinking funk of marketing speak smacks your cerebellum like a Mack truck: "Want to grow your presence on Twitter? Reach more people with your Tweets using Promoted Accounts. Learn more today!" It has begun.

Too serious? Perhaps, but today's news that Twitter's "Promoted Tweets" (read: adverts) are now also part of Twitter's search results is unfortunate at very least. For one, it takes the point of search and adds confusion -- why would Pizza Hut's new, hand-tossed pizza show up in results for, say, unrest in Ukraine? Here's hoping the algorithms are smart enough to avoid messy situations like that.

It's long been the case that (contextual) ads show up in Google search results, but in the case of Twitter search we've come to expect an ad-free experience. As Twitter product manager Nipoon Malhotra says in the announcement, "One of the best ways for users to discover what's happening on Twitter is through search, giving users the ability to instantly connect to conversations and topics of interest." That the logic following such a statement goes directly to advertising is, again, unfortunate. We've yet to see any promoted tweets in our search results just yet, but please let us know what you're seeing (good and bad alike).

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