The Associated Press today announced plans to post sponsored tweets from Samsung during this week's CES in Las Vegas, as part of a bold, and rather curious attempt to expand its digital advertising model. The specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it's certainly an unusual arrangement, as the two companies appear to have circumvented Twitter's official ad product entirely.
Like all sponsored tweets, advertisements appearing in the AP's Twitter feed will be clearly labeled as such, differentiating them from standard newswire posts. They won't, however, be published through Twitter's official sponsored tweets program. In fact, Twitter's terms of service explicitly prohibit this kind of inter-feed third-party advertising, as do Facebook's rules for advertisers on its corporate pages.
A delicate dance around Twitter's rules
When the social network launched sponsored tweets in 2010, it said it would "not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API." According to BuzzFeed, Samsung's sponsored tweets will be posted by hand, rather than automatically, allowing the two companies to skirt around Twitter's regulations. Paul Colford, AP Director of Media Relations, tells Buzzfeed that the agency is "confident in our position," and that "Twitter is pleased" with the deal.
The arrangement may also raise some questions of journalistic integrity, though the AP has thus far insisted that it will have no involvement in the creation of Samsung's advertisements. "As an industry, we must be looking for new ways to develop revenues while providing good experiences for advertisers and consumers," AP managing editor Lou Ferrara said in a statement released Monday. "At the same time, advertisers and audiences expect AP to do that without compromising its core mission of breaking news."
The deal comes at a time when the AP is looking for new ways to boost its bottom line, after posting a $193.3 million loss last year. It remains unclear whether these tweets will be displayed prominently within the AP's feed or whether they'll simply be folded into the agency's stream, though they definitely won't be that commonplace. According to the AP, Samsung will post only two ads every day during this week's event.