Social Media

Twitter takes on Facebook and Snapchat with Stories-like ads in Fleets

Twitter announced on Tuesday it will start adding full-screen ads to it newly launched product-Fleets. Fleets is a clone of Instagram and Snap’s Stories that displays disappearing tweets that sit in a row at the top of users’ mobile Twitter interface. Introduced last November, the Fleet format has apparently been successful enough that Twitter now wants to try to make money from it.

The ads support images and video in 9:16, and videos can be up to 30 seconds long. Brands can choose to add a “swipe up” call-to-action and will be able to access standard Twitter ad metrics, including impressions, profile visits, clicks, website visits, and other information.

“Fleet ads are full-screen billboards for advertisers,” Twitter senior product manager Justin Hoang and global product marketing manager Austin Evers wrote in a post announcing the ads. It’s partnering with a “handful” of advertisers in what it calls an “experiment.” Twitter is making the Fleet ads visible to a limited group of US users on iOS and Android.

Twitter is planning to closely study how vertical full-screen ads perform, not just for Fleet ads but possible future iterations of other full-screen formats, according to Hoang and Evers. A blog post stated, “We also believe that ads should be non-intrusive and bring value to people, so we’re focused on learning more about how people feel about and engage with this new placement.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said during April’s Q1 earnings call with analysts that the company was still learning about who uses Fleets. He said, “We started this product not to build a storage product within Twitter, but to solve the problem of people not wanting to tweet because they appear to be staying around too long. We certainly have seen a different audience than we normally see, but we still have much to learn and a lot to figure out in terms of like, where it goes from here.”

In April, Twitter reported that its ad revenue grew 32 percent year over year to $899 million, and total ad engagement rose 11 percent. Expanding its ads beyond users’ timelines, where people can easily scroll past without engaging, seems like the logical next step. Instagram, after all, has had ads in its Stories since 2017 and started putting ads in its TikTok clone Reels last month.

Twitter has been announcing a lot of new features this spring, updating its warnings for potentially offensive tweets, improving its photo cropping algorithm to allow “taller” images, adding the ability for Android users to search their direct messages, and rolling out a Tip Jar feature for donations.

Twitter also acquired Scroll, the $5-per-month subscription service that removes ads from participating websites. And its long-awaited paid subscription service Twitter Blue may be coming soon as well.

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