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Twitter unveils hashtag pages to keep courting big advertisers

twitter nascar pageOver the weekend, Twitter went all mainstream on us and aired its first TV commercial during the Pocono 400, advertising its #Nascar page. Twitter isn’t the first social network to take to the small screen; Google launched a pretty difficult-to-ignore campaign promoting Google+ last year. But Twitter’s focus isn’t to convert users (although that’s clearly a side bonus), it’s to convert advertisers. 

The effort also revealed new hashtag pages, the first of them being the dedicated Twitter Nascar site. These look like Twitter’s version of Facebook Fan Pages and are supposed to inject a little bit of professionalism into an advertising model that for all of its apparent success still inspires skepticism. 

The hashtag landing pages, as Twitter put it, will surface “the most interesting Tweets” using “a combination of algorithms and curation.” They also have a little extra polish over how searching hashtagged content used to look. It’s clear that the idea is to show marketers that this foreign application isn’t so strange and scary and totally user-controlled. 

Twitter has made much ado about its advertising reach, but large-scale campaigns have still been generally absent. The self-serve ad platform is inherently an attractive option for smaller businesses, even for all its shortcomings and confusion. 

This is just the next step in Twitter’s attempts to take the site to the next level while riding the line between happy users and happy advertisers. Video and photo integration has gotten much tighter, promoted ads and accounts have become prevalent, and now landing pages have made their debut. 

Don’t be too fast to draw conclusions about the mobile ads announcement Twitter made last week and this weekend’s hashtag page announcement. This most recent new feature is essentially a Web-facing one. But one thing is certain: Twitter is pushing its evolution full steam ahead, and it’s not stopping until the advertisers — the big advertisers — are there. The real question is whether Twitter can pull that off without isolating users and while also making upgrades that keep them happy.