Twitter backs first UK ad partner

Universal Pictures, Virgin Media and Gorillaz are among the first brands to launch commercial services on Twitter through a new company backed by the blogging site to manage demand from brands.

Twitter Partners has signed up a range of European media clients to develop a marketing strategy on Twitter and is in conversations with a number of major brands that are keen to tap into the phenomenal growth of the service.

The company, set up by angel investor and entrepreneur Peter Read, has attracted a high-profile board of advisors including founders Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, founder Stefan Glaenzer, Lovefilm co-founder Saul Klein, former Sky online marketing director Scott Gallacher and former Yahoo VP Toby Coppel.

It has been endorsed by Twitter itself, which is understood to be taking an equity stake in the firm.

Virtual band Gorillaz is the first Twitter Partners client to launch activity, promoting the documentary film Bananaz ahead of its theatrical release.

This month the company will also launch campaigns for Paramount, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Warner Music.

It aims to enable clients to tap into a detailed understanding of Twitter users and their behaviour. Read said, “Ad placements can’t be bought on Twitter at the moment. But our relationship helps to broker brands onto the platform as we have detailed exposure to what works.”

Services will include customer profiling and segmentation, CRM, and virtual focus groups.

Twitter Partners believes its close relationship with Twitter will enable media companies and brands to use it as a marketing channel better.

To date, brands such as Penguin and Starbucks have launched on Twitter by using the open tools (see below). Gallacher said, “Being an official partner makes a huge difference as it gives stability and insight.”

Twitter Partners was set up following overwhelming demand from brand and media companies wishing to launch on the service.

While Twitter has more than 6m users and has become an overnight media success story, the company is still without a proper commercial infrastructure.

“It has only 30 employees, most of whom are engineers and has been bombarded by approaches. It’s only just starting to hire business people,” said Read. “The company is excited about the likes of P&G and record labels approaching it but doesn’t have the people to handle this interest, so it’s happy to send them our way.”

Twitter Partners will provide a range of services, initially on a consultancy basis before expanding into products and automation. Key to its service will be tapping into and analysing the huge amounts of data being generated by Twitter users.

The company plans to buy or partner with one of the many start-ups arising focused on monitoring buzz on Twitter.

“No one has yet built an equivalent of Google Trends or Yahoo Buzz for Twitter,” said Read.


Brands on Twitter

British Airways

Twitterfeed: British_Airways

Established: December 2008

News and promotions-only channel at present which posted just nine tweets within its first month.

Twitterfeed: Aleksandr_Orlov

Established: January 2009

Topical comment and random silliness from the founder of


Twitterfeed: DellOutletUK

Established: Spring 2007

One of the original corporate tweeters, Dell claims this feed alone has generated sales worth $1m.


Twitterfeed: innocentdrinks

Established: March 2008

‘Funny noise’ from Fruit Towers that, after struggling to find its way, has now found its stride.

Penguin Books

Twitterfeed: PenguinBooks

Established: March 2008

‘Interesting and interested’ is the mantra for this literary hub, part of a portfolio of social media activities.


Twitterfeed: Starbucks

Established: August 2008

Self-styled virtual barista, if you believe tweeting is just like hanging out in your local coffee shop.

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