For First Time, Twitter Will Show Promoted Tweets From Accounts You Don’t Follow

twitter-logoLook out, Twitter users: More advertising is coming to your Twitter stream, even from accounts that you don’t already follow.

Twitter announced Tuesday that its Promoted Tweets program is expanding to “a small number of users,” and a Twitter help page explains where those ads might appear:

  • At the top of relevant search results pages on
  • In search results for a Promoted Trend.
  • Users’ “home” timelines.
  • Official Twitter clients.
  • Third-party Twitter clients.


Promoted Tweets have been around since April 2010 and an expected backlash never seemed to materialize. Originally, Promoted Tweets could be targeted based on keywords (used on Twitter search) or geography. In July of this year, Twitter allowed advertisers to start showing Promoted Tweets to followers.

This new move lets advertisers go further and have their Promoted Tweets show up to non-followers, too. Twitter promises that the ads will only appear “if the Tweet is likely to be interesting and relevant to that user.” That help page I linked to above expands a bit on how Twitter is determining relevance:

Our platform uses a variety of signals to determine which Promoted Tweets are relevant to users, including what a user chooses to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, what they retweet, and more.

Twitter is purposely limiting the intrusion of ads: Promoted Tweets will only appear once at the top of the user timeline, then it will scroll through the stream like any other tweet. Also, once a Promoted Tweet appears in a user’s timeline, the user will never see that tweet again. There’s also a small “Dismiss” link that users can click to immediately remove the promoted tweet.

This is the first time that Twitter users will see ads from accounts that they don’t follow, and Twitter says only a single-digit percentage of Twitter users worldwide will be opted-in to the expanded Promoted Tweets. Some of the initial advertisers in the program include American Express, Disney, Lexus, Pepsi, Xbox and Yahoo.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Features: General | Top News | Twitter: Advertising | Twitter: Business Issues


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Michael Robinson

    105 on Comcast

  • Michael Robinson

    Wow, what in the world? I logged in to Twitter on the senate hearing post and ended up here.

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