Twitter is testing an expansion of its promoted tweets advertising unit that displays the sponsored messages even if someone doesn’t sign in to its service.
The test could help Twitter address one of its core problems: People don’t have to sign up for its service to take advantage of the public nature of its contents. Anyone capable of searching for someone on Google, or following a direct link to a public tweet, can peruse the platform even if they tweet something themselves.
Many people take advantage of this fact. Re/code reports that roughly 500 million people who don’t have Twitter accounts visit the service each month. That’s greater than the 320 million users who log in to the site each month, according to Twitter’s usage statistics, and a valuable audience for advertisers.
“By letting marketers scale their campaigns and tap into the total Twitter audience, they will be able to speak to more people in new places using the same targeting, ad creative, and measurement tools,” Twitter said. “Marketers can now maximize the opportunities they have to connect with that audience.”
According to the blog post, promoted tweets will be shown to visitors without Twitter accounts whenever they view a user profile or a tweet’s detail page. The experiment is currently limited to the desktop Web and being tested by “selected advertisers” across the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, and Australia.
This isn’t the first time Twitter has tried to appeal to new or potential users. Earlier this year the company introduced a new homepage meant to lure people into signing up for its service. It built “instant timelines” for people who sign up without knowing what to do next. The service has done everything short of making it so people can post, like, or retweet something without an account.
These promoted tweets seem like an admission that not everyone who visits Twitter will grok the value in creating an account. But someone deciding not to sign up for the service can still be monetized as long as they’re willing to visit the site every once in a while and focus even a moment of their attention on an ad.