In an attempt to make money from more parts of its service, Twitter is rolling out a new form of advertising called "promoted accounts." In short, it will let advertisers buy a spot on Twitter's sidebar with a suggestion of Twitter accounts you should follow--that is, if it's relevant to accounts the user is already following.
Such a feature was first rumored in July, though it had originally been suggested that it was going to be aimed at individuals. This program--at least in its beginnings--is being launched with businesses in mind.
A blog post about the new program on Twitter's company blog explains that the algorithm for figuring out what accounts to surface is based on what accounts a user is following and not following. "For example, a lot of people who follow several gaming-related accounts also follow @xbox. If someone follows gaming-related accounts, but not @xbox, Twitter may recommend @xbox to that person," it says.
Promoted accounts join trends, and individual tweets as items that can be paid for to gain more prominence on various parts of the site. Short of things like banner and box ads, which do not currently appear on Twitter's pages, these are now the main form of advertising.
Twitter says the promoted accounts program is live now, but users may not see it immediately since it's only being tested with "a handful of companies."