Twitter Will Automate Ad-Buying by the End of the Year

Twitter plans to offer an automated ad-buying system for small businesses that should lead to a torrent of new advertising for the platform.

Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue, says that small businesses now have to go through Twitter’s sales department, which doesn’t have the infrastructure to field all the requests. To meet the need, Twitter plans to roll out a turnkey ad solution “later this year,” Bain tells us.

Twitter introduced an online form for advertisers in December 2010. The program lets marketers express their interest in Promoted Tweets, Trends or Accounts. Bain says that form is used to find leads for Twitter’s sales reps, who contact the advertiser afterward.

Right now Twitter’s sales staff focuses on the top 500 online advertisers. In April, though, Twitter rolled out geotargeting, which lets marketers buy ads by country as well as in any of 210 designated market areas.

If implemented, an automated-buying process for small businesses could lead to new advertising for Twitter and also drive up prices for ads, which are sold on an auction basis a la Google AdWords. Since Twitter is still in the early stages of rolling out its advertising platform, researcher eMarketer has estimated that Twitter will hit advertising revenues of $150 million this year — about the same amount Facebook made in 2007, when it got serious about selling ads.

Twitter’s situation, however, is the exact reverse of Facebook‘s. Facebook’s ad-buying system is automated, but designed for small advertisers. Large marketers who want to buy ads on Facebook usually work through agroup of firms that Facebook allows to use its ads API.

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