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For Holiday Advertising, Target Takes Aim at #BlackFriday

A week and a half before retail’s biggest day of the year, Target has bought the Twitter hashtag #BlackFriday.

The retail giant is using this promoted trend as a way to publicize a daily gift card sweepstakes between now and Saturday, November 27. This Wildfire-powered giveaway has users tweeting about the sweepstakes — tweets that, of course, include the #BlackFriday hashtag. Publicity that publicizes itself is so meta.

Target’s link from Twitter sends users to a promotional page focused on its two-day Black Friday sale. Target is also giving web shoppers special daily deals from this page.

While the hashtag, like any, carries its share of spam, a large number of real users are weighing in on Black Friday shopping plans (or working woes, for those who labor in retail). Target’s ad is a timely and appropriate entry into the ongoing conversation; at the same time, it amplifies the conversation as users jump on the trending topic bandwagon to discuss Black Friday and their holiday wishlists.

Twitter’s promoted trends are the kind of ad inventory that Ev Williams was talking about today at Web 2.0 Summit when he said that brands are demanding more ads than Twitter has available to sell them. In fact, the former Twitter CEO said the supply-demand ratio for ads had become the company’s biggest challenge.

Target itself is no stranger to smart inclusion of social media into its marketing and sales mix. Just yesterday, Target announced a partnership with location startup Shopkick to offer rewards for user checkins; at the end of the summer, the retailer worked with Gilt Groupe, a private-sale network, to promote its designer lines. And earlier this fall, the retailer began selling Facebook credits in stores.

What do you think: Is hashtag marketing going to generate great returns for Target and other major brands that experiment with Twitter advertising?

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