Twitter has unveiled the first phase of a new marketing programme that will allow selected advertisers to display "Promoted Tweets" at the top of search pages.

Biz Stone, the social network’s co-founder, said that these messages differ from both traditional search engine marketing and social ads because they will only continue to be displayed if they "resonate" with users.

If the Twitter audience does not interact with Promoted Tweets by replying to, favouring or Retweeting them, they will disappear.

Advertisers who have signed up for the first phase of the programme include Sony Pictures, Starbucks, Red Bull, Virgin America, Bravo and Best Buy.

Only one Promoted Tweet will appear on each search page and it will be clearly marked as "promoted". Otherwise, the messages will be the same as a normal Twitter entry, Mr Stone said.

"Since all Promoted Tweets are organic Tweets, there is not a single ‘ad’ in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter," he added.

According to figures from comScore, Twitter’s unique visitor numbers rose by nine per cent between December and January to reach 21.79 million.

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