Is Coke's 'Promoted Trends' The Real Thing For Real-Time Social Media?

Buying Twitter's 'Promoted Trends' seems to me to go against a major tenet of Twitter, namely the surfacing of real-time news items generated by the 'wisdom of crowds.' In my post, "Will 'Promoted Trends' Corrupt Real-Time Social Media News," I talked about the juxtaposition of obtrusive ads next to legitimate news items. Apparently the value this offers a brand is worth paying for, as evidenced by Coca Cola, one of the first to tout its "Promoted Trend" ROI (return on investment).

Twitter Promoted TrendsTwitter Promoted TrendsSo while the purity of Twitter's original premise is now tainted with an advertising business model, we can only hope that the focus of these new 'ads' are managed in such a way where 'trending' isn't replaced by 'spending.'

Only the second brand to explore this new advertising opportunity, Coca Cola jumped into the fray after Disney/Pixar and "Toy Story 3" started trending in mid-June. And along with buying the Trending Topic, Disney/Pixar got a Promoted Tweet which appears at the top of the Twitterstream when someone searches for "Toy Story" or a number of keywords associated with the movie.

Disney /Pixar Promoted TweetDisney /Pixar Promoted Tweet

While Twitter says that just as with Promoted Tweets, the Promoted Trending topic “has to resonate” or it will disappear, it doesn't clarify what it takes to actually resonate or what's the threshold when it might be removed? The cost for one of Twitter 'Trends and Tweets' ad buys is said to cost tens of thousands of dollars, and Carol Kruse, vice president of marketing for Coke indicated that the expense was small relative to other types of ad buys and that her company was pleased with the initial experiment.

In just 24 hours, Coca-Cola’s first Promoted Trend garnered 86 million impressions and an engagement rate of 6%, according Kruse in an interview with the Financial Times.

The company chose to run with its Promoted Trend campaign during a Wednesday’s World Cup match that was estimated to have high traffic volume. Since this was a peak time for Twitter activity, particularly with all of Twitter's recent outages, the decision was a risk, but apparently one that produced results.

Coke’s Twitter messages congratulated the England and US teams, linked to videos on YouTube and invited people to “share their celebration” of their teams’ success.

Coca Cola Promoted TweetCoca Cola Promoted Tweet

“When it’s something new, it’s hard for publishers to know what the value is,” Kruse said. “We didn’t know how it would work out but we wanted to learn in that space ... It could have completely flopped. They [Twitter] also wanted to learn with us.”

In comparison to other online advertising vehicles, Gaston Legorburu, worldwide creative officer at SapientNitro, an advertising agency that works with Coke notes that not only can Twitter produce the numbers it also provides 'relevancy' versus ad spends with the likes of Yahoo and MSN that can provide "tonnage," but are not "as relevant."

So the question remains whether Twitter is the right channel for advertising based on five years of virtually no ads at all? Is advertising on the microblogging platform amplifying the 'wisdom of crowds' sentiment or is it a conflict of interest? Take our POLL and let us know how you feel about the topic.