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Twitter ad revenue could hit $150 million this year, research group says

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Twitter may triple its advertising revenue to $150 million in 2011 as more companies turn to the growing social media website to market their products, according to a report from EMarketer Inc.

And by the end of 2012, Twitter ad sales could hit $250 million, EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in the report.

Twitter introduced its advertising program last April and has pulled in major ad campaigns from major companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Pepsi, Starbucks and Disney.

Last year, the San Francisco micro-blogging site brought in about $45 million in advertising revenue, the report said.

By comparison, Facebook brought in more about $1.8 billion in ad sales, EMarketer said. The research firm expects Facebook's ad numbers to grow hugely as well: It projects about $4 billion in ad revenue in 2011 and about $5 billion in 2012.

Twitter has more than 175 million users worldwide and will have to increase its user base substantially before being able to compete with Internet advertising heavyweights Google and Facebook, which is also the leading social networking website. Facebook says it has amassed 600 million users.

Williamson noted that a December report from the Pew Research Center said only about 8% of Internet consumers in the U.S. use Twitter, which is relatively low compared with Facebook's and Google's numbers.

"If Twitter can grow its user base and convince marketers of its value as a go-to secondary player to Facebook, it will succeed in gaining revenue," she said. "In 2011 it must work overtime to give its early advertisers a positive experience."

Twitter's monetization efforts will go into "full gear" this year on the popularity of its current Promoted tweets and trends and on the upcoming launch of a platform similar to Facebook's that will let companies target their ads at specific user groups, she wrote.

The micro-blogging site won't pass Facebook in terms of revenue anytime soon, but it should pass MySpace by 2012, the report said. MySpace pulled in about $288 million in ad revenue last year, EMarketer said.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Malaysian girl logs in to her Twitter account in Kuala Lumpur in October. Credit: Saeed Khan / AFP/Getty Images

 
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