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Apple Buys Up Twitter's Ad Space to Launch Its Watch and Fend Off Hijacking Rivals

CEO Tim Cook's team warms up to social media

One of the many Promoted Tweets ads that Apple ran today.

Apple had Twitter blanketed today. There was basically no room for rivals to use the messaging service to hijack its big moment while unveiling the Apple Watch. The Twitter strategy could be a sign that Apple is growing more savvy as a social media marketer.

The first big move was to buy the Promoted Trend—which, at last check, costs $200,000 a day—to be the top item on Twitter. Apple's choice of wording for the ad seemed to show it was mostly interested in keeping that paid position out of the hands of rivals, not in coming up with a fancy hashtag. The Promoted Trend simply read: "Apple event."

The Cupertino, Calif.-company has seen its hardware rivals get aggressive on Twitter during previous events. Samsung, Microsoft, LG and Motorola have been known to buy Promoted Tweets during Apple events to show up prominently when users there discuss product launches.

Last year, Samsung purchased the Promoted Trend during Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch. It also has been thorough covering any Apple keywords with its own Promoted Tweets during past events.

Apple has been slow to adopt all social channels and embrace marketing on them. It doesn't even have an @Apple Twitter account.

Still, today, Twitter was all about Apple, with its watch event appearing naturally several times among the trending topics. Apple finally launched the much-anticipated wearable device, and revealed it would hit stores April 24—pre-orders start April 10. The Apple Watch costs anywhere from $350 to $17,000 for the premium gold edition.

Apple fended off potential brand-jackers by making sure its Promoted Tweets showed up for anyone searching most keywords associated to Apple and watches. It also unveiled a new Macbook today, including a new gold variety, and made sure to buy the top paid position for anyone searching for that keyword on Twitter.

Still, not every competitor was discouraged from going after Apple with a real-time social media blitz. Scrappy startup Pebble, which shot to fame raising money for its smartwatch on Kickstarter, was active on its personal Twitter account while Apple showed off new features of its watch. Pebble took some shots at Apple and its watch features.

However, Apple still closed the paid gates on rivals pretty tightly. For instance, a Twitter search for "apple watch" came back with this atop the results. Looks like Apple does not suffer trolls lightly. 

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