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Twitter Expands Ad Tool for Marketers Seeking TV Viewers

Twitter Inc., the microblogging site, expanded a service that lets advertisers direct promotions to viewers who tweet about shows they’re watching on television.

The ad-targeting service, first introduced in May for a limited number of marketers, is now available to all those running national campaigns in the U.S., the San Francisco-based company said on its blog today. Twitter is courting television advertisers in its bid to reach $1 billion in sales by 2014.

Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo has also struck deals with content owners, including Viacom Inc., the National Basketball Association and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, to bring video clips to Twitter’s site that can be displayed with ads. The TV-targeting tool introduced today lets advertisers identify viewers of a certain program or ad by analyzing words contained in their tweets and display text-based promotional messages at the top of their Twitter feed.

“In real time, we track where they are running their ads,” Deb Roy, Twitter’s chief media scientist, said in an interview last week. “Then we do semantic analysis and determine all the people who are tweeting about that episode.”

The technology powering the new tool was first developed by Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup bought by Twitter in February. Bluefin was co-founded by Roy, who is also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Twitter is “essentially a social soundtrack, a synchronized conversation with what’s happening in the world,” Roy said.

After watching coordinated ads on TV and Twitter, users were 58 percent more likely to purchase products and services and 27 percent more likely to mention brands such as Holiday Inns Inc. and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc on the social site, Twitter said.

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