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Twitter looks for ‘signals of intent’

In the coming months, a fast food ad, complete with menu options and directions to the one closest to your home, may pop up when you share your midnight cravings with your Twitter followers.

An airline banner offering deals of your favourite travel destinations may appear after you key in “seriously dying for a #vacation; or deals from weight trainers may flood your page when you’re rekindling your New Year resolutions.

Following the footsteps of the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Google, Twitter is launching keyword targeting in timelines on its ad platform.

Available in all languages and markets where Twitter ads are supported, the new features links advertisers to users based on the keywords in their most recent Tweets as well as the Tweets with which users recently engage.

What that means is for every tweet posted by you or the people you follow most, the website will extract keywords and push out relevant ads.

“Latte”, for example, could garner Starbuck’s latest summery concoctions complete with discounts and directions to the closest outlet from where you’re standing.

“Let’s say a user tweets about enjoying the latest album from their favourite band, and it so happens that band is due to play a concert at a local venue. That venue could now run a geotargeted campaign using keywords for that band with a Tweet containing a link to buy the tickets,” blogged Twitter product manager Nipoon Malhotra.

The frequency of ad display, however, will remain the same: users can still dismiss Promoted Tweets that they don’t find relevant.

Sound familiar? 

Aside from inserting Sponsored Posts into the News Feed, Facebook has been sneaking in fan pages of what your closest friends “liked”, even if they endorsed the brand weeks ago.

Google tracks searches and display relevant ads on the side or on top.

And joining the parade is Instagram, which recently announced that its upcoming ads “will not always identify paid services, sponsored content or commercial communications”.

Though these are perhaps the consequences of “staying connected” with free social media, they have to earn revenue and perhaps we are just so attached to these platforms we have no choice but to accept such surveillance.

Albeit our reluctance, one thing is for sure: the more users give in to these targeted ad platforms, the more privacy we give up and the closer the Orwellian Big Brother theory becomes a reality.

Here’s how Twitter said the ads will work:

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