Twitter reaches biggest ad deal yet

Story highlights

  • Twitter signs major ad deal with Publicis' Starcom MediaVest
  • Partnership is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and is Twitter's largest ad deal
  • SMG clients include P&G, Walmart, Coca-Cola, gain "preferred" Twitter ad slots

Twitter has taken a big step on to traditional media turf by signing its biggest advertising deal with one of the world's leading ad-buyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal with Publicis's Starcom MediaVest Group is worth hundreds of millions of dollars over several years and reflects both the growing importance of Twitter in media and marketing, and new thinking on its relationship with television.

"We think that the industry had been focused in the wrong area, which was making a decision between Twitter and TV," said Adam Bain, Twitter's president of global revenue. "That's not what we believe. Twitter is a bridge."

The deal, structured as a partnership, comes as people increasingly visit social networking sites and use mobile devices while watching television. A recent Nielsen study confirmed a strong correlation between increases in Twitter volume and TV ratings.

The arrangement grants SMG's clients, which include Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, access to preferred advertising slots on Twitter, research and data, and new products, such as an "In-tweet mobile survey" programme that will allow companies to poll consumers for real-time opinions.

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It comes only weeks before US television networks sell about three-quarters of their commercial inventory in the annual "up front" market and is likely to put pressure on TV companies to include more digital and social media offerings in their pitches.

"Twitter, in a very short period of time, has gone from an experiment to something that is essential," Laura Desmond, global chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group, told the Financial Times.

    "This signals to the marketplace how we want to conduct business and measure the implications. This is the future. It's convergence."

    The deal is not exclusive and does not preclude Twitter from striking similar partnerships with other marketing companies. It comes as Twitter unveils a flurry of new advertising products and plans to work more closely with TV networks.

    While the spending marketers commit to Twitter remain a fraction of the $205bn they spend on television globally, budgets are shifting quickly. Twitter's global ad revenues are expected to almost double this year, reaching $582.8m in 2013 up from $288.3m in 2012, according to eMarketer

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