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Twitter goes for gold with Olympics ad strategy

business Updated: Aug 03, 2012 00:05 IST

If the millions of Olympics-related tweets flooding the Internet in recent days are a measure of Twitter's popular appeal, the company's big presence in London also signals something else: its arrival as a major player in the world of big-time brand advertising.

In sharp contrast to Google, which initially built its businesses mostly by persuading thousands of small companies to buy "direct response" ads, Twitter's emerging strategy focuses on selling elaborate brand campaigns to major marketers such as Procter & Gamble and Verizon Communications.

The Olympics have presented a prime opportunity for Twitter to position itself as a new media channel that complements TV broadcasts - and carries the big-name ads to match.

"We can service the very biggest brands in the marketplace," Adam Bain, the company's president of revenue and key advertising strategist, said in a recent interview.

"The conversation that's happening on TV, or happening live is also happening on Twitter. That's very valuable."

The advertising giants say their early experiments with Twitter have shown remarkable results.

Consider the case of PepsiCo, which spent $640 million in 2011 on marketing, according to Kantar Media.

Beginning late last year, about a dozen Twitter staffers led by Bain flew to PepsiCo's offices offices in Purchase, New York, for a series of brainstorming sessions.

The two companies then drew up a plan to use Twitter as a centerpiece for a massive rebranding campaign, "Live for Now," that tied the soft drink to pop music stars and played up its youth appeal.

As the campaign unfurled in June, Pepsi rolled out a series of music videos on its Twitter page based on which artists were most discussed on Twitter, and doled out downloads for hit songs.

The company also paid Twitter to boost the reach of select "promoted tweets," which garnered 68 million impressions in one day.

About 24% of users who saw Pepsi's paid tweets clicked, replied to or helped broadcast the tweets - a rate that deeply impressed Pepsi.