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Tweets Shrink Again for Marketers: What the FTC Says About Ads
Posted on March 16th 2013
As if 140 characters weren’t enough, Twitter decreased the amount of space marketers can use in tweets yet again. After Twitter updated its link wrapping code last month, marketers tweeting out a link would find themselves two characters short.
The change trimmed down tweets including condensed links. Normally, links in tweets take up 20 characters, leaving the extra 120 for commentary. But with the introduction of Twitter’s new link wrapping code, only 118 characters were left for tagging or introducing content.
If you think 118 characters are steep, tweets are shrinking even more. According to the Wall Street Journal, a new Federal Trade Commission decision requires tweets containing “short-form ads” will be held to the same requirements as other ads. That means tweets containing links to a product will be considered ads, and they will have to include a disclaimer identifying the tweet as an advertisement.
While normal tweeters believe they won’t have to be concerned with this, the FTC said even mentioning successful results from a weight loss product could be considered an advertisement.
This severely limits valuable space online marketing companies need for promoting brands. While it’s understandable that all advertisements should be treated as such, it’s also crippling to advertisers. The amount of space it takes to label a tweet as an ad diminishes the amount of space a marketer needs to introduce the product. The FTC said disclosures should be unmistakably clear. It suggested preceding posts with “Ad:” or tagging tweets with “#sponsored.” But takes up valuable space, especially when including links.
Not only that, but what consumer wants to read a tweet that outwardly says it’s an ad? Not me.
So what’s a marketer to do?
First, marketers should reword tweets so they are not necessarily promoting a specific product. The Wall Street Journal said, “If a company can’t find a way to make it’s disclosure fit the constraints of a social of mobile ad, it needs to change the ad copy so that it doesn’t require a disclosure.”
In the interest of promoting advertising, Twitter should sell its own ad space with more characters. An online marketing company would be more likely to pay for ads directly through Twitter if they allowed ads to be posted with a few more characters. Characters used for disclosure labels should not be subtracted from the original 140-character limit. This would boost Twitter’s revenue and give marketers a better chance at promoting their brands.