In an effort to turn a profit during scrutiny of a very public IPO, Twitter has been making nonsensical partnerships right and left. First, Nielsen. Then, Comcast. Twitter's latest way to attempt to earn a buck? Adding sponsored ads on top of sponsored ads.
Variety reports that American Express and Fox have teamed up with Twitter to incorporate the credit card giant's ads in front of clips of Fox shows, such as The Mindy Project and New Girl—which doesn't seem like such a bad idea, until you remember that this isn't YouTube, and those clips were already ads in and of themselves. Under Twitter's new Amplify program, TV networks were able to partner with Twitter to fill individual users' feeds with clips and related programming from shows they might be interested in. Such tweets would be marked as "promoted by" and then the show name. The new partnership between Fox and American Express will still be part of Amplify, but instead of just an ad to watch Mindy Kaling make out with yet another impossibly attractive white male, Twitter users will now have to slog through a clip of American Express' fee-riddled credit cards first.
As has been said repeatedly, Twitter is not profitable. Their mad scramble to make big name partnerships has been a transparent attempt to try and raise stock prices—an attempt that wouldn't be mocked if they were at least thought through. Their Nielsen partnership to measure a show's chatter on social media is, in theory, excellent. Salon pointed out today that Twitter is one of the best tools at our disposal to study modern anthropology. However, Nielsen has been proven time and again to provide slightly irrelevant data, and given that the Twitter ratings only take into account mentions, with no separation between positive and negative tweets, their Twitter ratings provide a false metric at best. Factor in the proven lack of correlation between increased viewership and Twitter mentions, and the entire ratings system loses its credibility. Their Comcast partnership was even worse—a "See It" button was getting added to promoted tweets to allow Comcast customers to navigate away from Twitter and watch ads on their set top boxes. There's nothing like a second screen to provide you a third screen, all while distracting you away from your first screen.
It remains unclear how Twitter will try to hide the fact that their sponsors are getting sponsors, but let's hope it's some incarnation of "promoted by promoted by," because they might as well just embrace the absurd.