The Associated Press posted its first ever sponsored tweet yesterday but didn't pay Twitter to do it:
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 7, 2013
The tweet was paid for by Samsung as part of a package promoting its presence at CES, the giant electronics show in Las Vegas.
A small number of people are angry about the sponsorship, believing it will somehow devalue AP's coverage. Most, however, see it for what it is: Advertising akin to that which a newspaper would sell. Besides, the AP needs to pay the rent, too.
More interesting is the way in which the tweet was crafted: Without going through Twitter's own API (the automated system for placing promoted and sponsored tweets). The big hole in Twitter's business model is that it does not prevent account holders from selling sponsorship of their tweets to third parties. As long as the account holder is manually tweeting each sponsored tweet, it does not fall afoul of Twitter's rules and Twitter does not take a revenue cut.
Twitter only gets a cut of the revenue if sponsored tweets are placed through the Twitter API, which is built to handle automated tweets and promoted tweets. As Mathew Ingram of PaidContent put it, "How much longer can it allow this kind of practice to continue?"
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