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SOCIAL NEWS: Twitter launches targeted ads

Twitter has announced that it will begin showing individually targeted ads using cookies for users in the U.S, despite heightened public debate concerning online privacy.

Cookies are small files, placed on users' computers, contain bits of information about the user, such as what other sites they have visited or where they are logging in from.

Twitter will allow retailers to attach anonymous versions of their customers' email addresses, known as hashes, to Twitter's advertising engine to individually target their prospects.

Kevin Weil, senior director of product, revenue at Twitter said in a blog post: “Let’s say a local florist wants to advertise a Valentine’s Day special on Twitter. They’d prefer to show their ad to flower enthusiasts who frequent their website or subscribe to their newsletter.

"To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the shop may share with us a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash) or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID).

"We can then match that information to accounts in order to show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine’s Day deal. This is how most other companies handle this practice, and we don’t give advertisers any additional user information.”

Dominic Trigg, managing director Europe at Rocket Fuel, comments: “The launch of retargeting on Twitter is welcome news for advertisers and consumers alike. However, the real winners in the advertising industry will be those who can combine the intelligent use of prospecting and retargeting to identify which types of audiences are the most likely to respond."