Now that it's a public company, Twitter will eternally have a lot of questions to answer regarding revenue. The company's monetization efforts have been criticized heavily for years, and are obviously now in a greater spotlight than ever.
Twitter just made a couple of major announcements in the advertising department. It is launching enhanced mobile targeting, and making its ads available to small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada.
76% of Twitter's 230 million users access the service with a mobile device, according to the company. In the past, advertisers have been able to target users by operating system, but now, they can segment audiences on iOS and Android by OS version, specific device, and WiFi connectivity.
To go along with the new targeting enhancements, Twitter has also launched new reporting analytics for them.
"This increased granularity in mobile targeting helps advertisers reach users who are most important to them," says Twitter Ads product manager Kelton Lynn. "For example: Mobile app marketers can now reach users who have compatible OS versions, ideal device types for app usage with high connectivity to prompt a new download or re-engagement through an app card. Telco marketers can now promote loyalty and rewards to users on their specific devices, or reach new prospects on older devices. All marketers can focus their campaigns on users with device models that are indicative of demographics which align with their campaign goals."
As of Thursday, Twitter's self-serve ad platform is open to SMBs in the UK, Ireland and Canada. Availability launched to U.S. SMBs in April, and Twitter says thousands of businesses have taken advantage.
"Twitter advertising lets you amplify your presence on the platform, while giving you total control of your message," Twitter Revenue product manager Ravi Narasimhan tells businesses. "Use Promoted Accounts to build an active community of followers who are advocates and influencers for your business. If you’re looking to broaden the reach of message, try Promoted Tweets, which let you engage with users who are not yet following you based on a variety of powerful targeting options."
"It takes a just few minutes to get started with Twitter Ads," Narasimhan adds. "If you can Tweet, you can advertise on Twitter — all you need is a Twitter account and a credit card. You’re in control of your ads, the audience you want to reach, and of course your budget. Best of all, you will only be charged when people follow your Promoted Account or retweet, reply, favorite or click on your Promoted Tweets. You are never charged for your organic Twitter activity."
A lot of small businesses remain skeptical about Twitter's ability to have a significant impact. NorthJersey.com reports that small businesses in the area are mixed on Twitter ads.
One business owner is quoted as saying, "We track how many people have been looking us up on social media and our website, and I know it's been increasing – but I still don't know if I would pay for advertising. Interest can be gained through Twitter, but at this stage I don't think we would look into advertising on there. Maybe we would wait until it is successful with other local small businesses."
Additional targeting abilities like those just launched should help, but it's really just a start. Look at how long Google has been in the game, and it still manages to launch highly significant new efforts in ad targeting and reporting (no doubt one of the reasons Google is now bigger than all of magazines or all of newspapers in the U.S. in terms of ad revenue)."
Simon Mansell, CEO of Twitter Ads API partner TBG Digital thinks "haters are wrong about Twitter," and that the ad products are promising.
"We have talked to our clients and everyone agrees that it’s a relatively new channel and there is still work to do," he says. "However, it does allow brands to communicate around things that are happening in real time, to feel and act more like humans and hopefully as a result create real emotional relationships with their target audience."
Mansell adds, "Is everyone clear on how to measure Twitter activity yet? No. Does that mean brands shouldn’t try it? No. One of the main objectives of advertising is to cut through the clutter, so if brands always waited for new platforms to have completely developed ad products with targeting and measurement all nailed down perfectly, the opportunity to cut-through and stand-out may have passed."
The new targeting capabilities can be accessed via the mobile targeting filters in Twitter's ad campaign setup, and they'll be available through its Ads API partners in the near future.