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Twitter signs biggest ad deal yet with SMG

The deal reflects rising importance of Twitter in media and marketing.

Social networking service Twitter has signed its biggest advertisement deal to date worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) to improve revenue, reported the Financial Times citing people close to the situation.

SMG is part of Publicis Groupe. Some of the SMG’s clients include Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

Adam Bain, president of global revenue at Twitter, said: “We think that the industry had been focused in the wrong area, which was making a decision between Twitter and TV. That’s not what we believe. Twitter is a bridge.”

The multi-year deal allows SMG’s clients access to preferred advertising slots on Twitter, research and data, and new products, such as an “In-tweet mobile survey” programme that will allow companies to poll consumers for real-time opinions, reported FT.

The deal is likely to put pressure on television firms to include more digital and social media offerings in their products. It comes only weeks before US television networks sell about three-quarters of their commercial inventory in the annual “up front” market.

Laura Desmond, global chief executive of SMG, told the FT: “Twitter, in a very short period of time, has gone from an experiment to something that is essential. This signals to the marketplace how we want to conduct business and measure the implications. This is the future. It’s convergence.”

The deal, which is not exclusive and does not restrict Twitter from signing similar agreements with other marketing firms. It comes as Twitter unveils a flurry of new advertising products and plans to work in partnership with TV networks.

While the spending marketers commit to Twitter remain a fraction of the $205bn they spend on television globally, budgets are shifting quickly.

Twitter’s global ad revenues are expected to almost double in 2013 by reaching $582.8m, an increase from $288.3m last year, according to research firm eMarketer.

A recent Nielsen study confirmed a strong correlation between rise in Twitter volume and TV ratings.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.