2013, without question, has been the year that Twitter started taking advertising seriously (obviously a higher priority being the year it went public as well), and it might just be the year where your business should start taking it seriously too.
Twitter has added a plethora of important features for advertisers this year, which could help it capture the interest of a lot more businesses looking to generate sales and brand awareness in the Twitterverse.
Do you believe that Twitter has emerged as a valuable advertising channel, or does it still have a lot to do before it gets you on board? As a user, have you ever clicked through from a Twitter ad? Let us know in the comments.
In February, Twitter launched the Twitter Ads API enabling third-parties to integrate with the platform.
Shortly after that, Twitter opened up its self-service ad platform to all U.S. users and launched Keyword Targeting, enabling advertisers to reach users based on words in their recent tweets and in tweets with which they've recently engaged. This provided a more familiar Google-like ad targeting experience.
“Setting up a campaign to target keywords in the timeline is very similar to the setup process for search," product manager Nipoon Malhotra explained at the time. "Enter the keywords you want to target, choose whether you want to use phrase match or unordered keyword match, and specify your other targeting options such as geographic location, device and gender.”
The feature got a much-needed upgrade this month when Twitter added broad match to keyword targeting. It had also recently added sentiment filtering and negative keyword match.
“Just like on other keyword advertising platforms, if the coffee shop sells lattes but not espressos, they can use the ‘+’ modifier on the broad matched terms to prevent broadening,” Malhotra said. “Targeting ‘love + latte’ will match to users who Tweet ‘luv latte,’ but it won’t match to users who Tweet ‘luv espresso’. Setting up a broad matched keyword campaign is simple, since broad match will be the default matching type for targeted keywords moving forward. Existing campaigns will remain unchanged and will be automatically opted into the ‘+’ modifier to prevent broadening. And, broad match for keywords will not change the frequency of ads shown to our users, who will continue to have the ability to dismiss Promoted Tweets that they don’t find relevant.”
Broad match extends to the Twitter Ads API.
In October, Twitter began offering advertisers the ability to schedule tweets (organic or promoted) for specific dates and times up to a year in advance.
"Tweets can be delivered organically to followers, or set up to publish as part of a Promoted Tweet campaign where you can select specific targeting criteria to make sure the right users see your message,” said Twitter Ads product manager Christine Lee.
Then came enhanced mobile targeting (not to mention the expansion of its ad platform to small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada). 76% of Twitter’s users access the service from a mobile device, according to the company. Before, advertisers were 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.
In November, Twitter gave advertisers the ability to target users having conversations about TV shows.
December alone has seen several major additions to the platform. In addition to broad match for keyword targeting, Twitter made its Tailored Audiences retargeting feature available globally.
“With tailored audiences you can reach users on Twitter who have shown interest in your brand or your category even away from Twitter,” explains Twitter revenue product manager Abhishek Shrivastava. “Let’s say a hotel brand wants to advertise a promotion on Twitter and they’d prefer to show their ad to travel enthusiasts who have recently visited their website. To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the hotel brand may share with us browser-related information (browser cookie ID) through an ads partner. We can then match that information to Twitter accounts in order to show the matched users a Promoted Tweet with the travel deal. The end result is a highly relevant and useful message for the user.”
“Targeting recent visitors to your website is just one way to use tailored audiences,” says Shrivastava. “We believe there are many other possibilities. Think of it as the way to define your own groups of existing and target customers, and connect with them on Twitter.”
Twitter has since expanded is Promoted Accounts timeline format to all advertisers as an additional option similar to the format from the Who To Follow section. This gives brands a way to pick up some more followers. Advertisers are only charged when the user actually follows the account.
Finally, Twitter has announced the general availability of conversion tracking, giving marketers are measurement and reporting tool to help them get a better idea of how effective their Twitter campaigns are. After testing the feature for months, the company says results have been "encouraging," with one advertisers driving purchases with a a 65% lower CPA thanks to conversion tracking.
“Let’s say a shoe retailer wants to measure how a specific Promoted Tweet campaign drove purchases on their website,” explains product manager Abhishek Shrivastava. “Using conversion tracking, the retailer would create a ‘purchase’ conversion tag and place it on their purchase confirmation page. When a user reaches that page, the tag reports to Twitter that a purchase event has occurred. Twitter then matches that event against the set of users who have viewed or engaged with any valid Promoted Tweet campaign. Campaign analytics report the total number of users that converted and cost per action (CPA) without identifying who viewed or engaged with the Promoted Tweet, allowing the advertiser to focus on the campaigns that are driving the most cost-effective purchases.”
With Twitter only being public now for less than two months, you can expect the company to continue to rapidly improve its ad platform to get more businesses on board. The company is not yet profitable, and its rivals are certainly not slowing down in their efforts. That will likely help push Twitter to create more effective ways for advertisers to reach its users.
What would you like to see Twitter add to its ad platform in the coming year? Do you find Twitter to be an effective advertising channel? Let us know in the comments.
All Images: Twitter