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Twitter Offers to turn your credit card into a coupon

Twitter is introducing a new tool for advertisers and shoppers—to turn your credit card into a coupon, and make its ads more valuable. A new product called Twitter Offers allows advertisers to offer consumers a deal, which they can quickly add to their credit card, to redeem in stores or online.

So let's say a big brand like JC Penney or a local coffee shop offers 10 percent off in stores or online—consumers can click to add the deal to their credit card. (The first time consumers have to add their credit card information, each subsequent time the credit card info is saved). When consumers make a purchase the discount is automatically applied, sending users a Twitter notification that the offer has been redeemed. The savings appear in users' credit card statements. The company won't reveal what brands it's testing with; sources say it'll be a mix of large retailers, restaurants, and maybe a sports league.

The Twitter logo on coffee mugs inside the company's headquarters in San Francisco.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Twitter logo on coffee mugs inside the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

Twitter Offers is designed to attract retailers with a whole new way not just to drive sales—but perhaps most importantly—to connect online activity to offline sales.

"The appeal is to reach the millions of people expressing a demand in real time, and give them a way to claim an offer instead of just buy right now," says Twitter's Head of Commerce Nathan Hubbard. He explained that this is the first time Twitter is offering advertisers a clear sense of their return-on-investment on in-store purchases. Hubbard says the new tool "opens a big bucket of retail spend" from those brands who want to understand the impact of their advertising at the cash register.

Hubbard says the new tool is built off Cardspring, which Twitter purchased four months ago: "It's a good example of how we've increased the pace of execution."

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It's also a sign of Twitter's ongoing push into retail—to draw more retail ad dollars, and lay the groundwork for taking a cut of sales made on its platform. In September it started to roll out a "buy now" button—the instant gratification to the "buy later" option of Twitter Offers. Hubbard wouldn't reveal any details of how "buy now" is doing so far, just saying "what we've seen so far has us very enthusiastic about the opportunity."

The news of Twitter Offers is overshadowed by the embarrassing Tweet of CFO Anthony Noto, of what appeared to be a direct message. He wrote "I still think we should buy them. He is on your schedule for Dec. 15 or 16—we need to sell him. I have a plan." It was quickly deleted but screenshots of the Tweet are sparking conversation about Twitter's challenge of improving the service and questions of what start-ups Twitter might want—or need—to buy.

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Correction: Twitter Offers marks the first time Twitter is offering advertisers a clear sense of their return-on-investment on in-store purchases. That fact was misstated in an earlier version of this article.