According to Reuters, Twitter is preparing to launch an Advertising API, targeting larger advertisers, allowing them to tailor, automate, and publish ads in bulk directly into Twitter users' streams.
Access to the Twitter Adverting API, which Twitter plans to begin in the fourth quarter, will initially be rolled out as a test involving a limited number of partners, according to Reuters.
The Advertising API is a sign that Twitter is pulling together its business model and looking to further monetize its network in the same way as Google does with its Adwords and Adsense, and Facebook with its Ad Network.
Right now you have to submit a form, and talk with a sales person to run ads on Twitter, the new API would create an automated advertising marketplace on top of the Twitter ecosystem.
According to Reuters, Twitter's advertising API will initially let advertisers automatically deliver ads in two formats:
Promoted Tweets - Allowing an advertiser to sponsor any 140 character messages via Twitter
Promoted Accounts - Enabling advertisers to promote its own Twitter account to other users
A marketing research firm eMarketer, estimates that Twitter is expected to generate about $150 million in ad revenue through its ad network in 2011.
Evolving the Twitter advertising network to a self-service system, and adding an API for programmatic integration, will significantly increase the volume of advertising that runs through the network, putting it on par with Google and Facebook's offering.
This kind of system is well-suited for larger advertisers that need to buy ads in bulk and run large-scale online advertising campaigns that involve thousands of different versions of an ad.
"They can just flood the system with ad types and almost in real time they can figure out which ads are working, which are most successful, which are getting the clicks at the right price," says Debra Aho Williamson, analyst at eMarketer.
The release of an API is the next logical step for the Twitter advertising network, but one area that isn't mentioned in the Reuters piece -- and is critical to the overall health of the Twitter ecosystem: where do the developers fit in?
Will developers be able participate in the advertising network and share in the revenue generated from advertising on their sites and applications?
Developers play a central role in building sites and applications that will drive traffic and resulting revenue for Twitter and its advertisers. Giving developers an opportunity to make money from their efforts, will only strengthen the overall platform, and bring more value for advertisers and Twitter.