Twitter has successfully managed to grow itself into a unique platform that generates instantaneous and seamless conversations with about 140 million active users (Twitter Blog, 2012). A remarkable feat yes, but how can brands leverage off this audience for online advertising?
Twitter launched their comprehensive advertising platform ‘Promoted Products’, towards the beginning of 2012. This was a long time coming and aimed to increase Twitter’s advertising revenue by helping brands use Twitter as a real paid community engagement tool. However, there might be a number of issues that present themselves going forward, particularly if they’re competing with advertising giants Facebook and Google. And what about user experience? How do they plan on maintaining a positive experience for all of their users?
When you put Twitter’s 140 million active users next to Facebook’s 900 million (Business Insider, 2012), we can see that the reach is smaller. But relevance isn’t all about reach, and consumers for certain brands are arguably even more engaged on Twitter than on other platforms. Let’s look a little deeper and see what Twitter offers in terms of advertising.
What Twitter Now Offers Advertisers
Twitter’s Promoted Products offers a range of advertising options, some appealing specifically to small businesses.
- The Promoted Accounts option allows advertisers to display their Twitter accounts in users’ “Who to Follow” tabs on Twitter, and works on a ‘cost per follow’ model
- The Promoted Tweets option allows advertisers to promote particular tweets in users search results or in their timelines, and this works on a ‘cost per engagement model’
- Promoted Tweets are currently only available in selected countries. On top of this, Twitter has recently launched Targeted Promoted Tweets which allows advertisers to target ads at a specific audience, based on a variety of factors such as geographical location, their device type or platform
- Promoted Trends displays the advertisers chosen tweet at the top of users’ Trending Topics section and is by far the most expensive option in the Promoted Products offering, working on a ‘once off fee’ model
Twitter can also promote your best tweets automatically and all you need to do is set your daily budget. This has resulted in an agile and instant system, where anyone can now advertise on Twitter. This system is relatively new and it’s difficult to gauge its success so far. However there have been indications of small businesses experiencing success via Twitter ads on mobile devices using the Promoted Products offering. PF Chang’s China Bistro has seen exceptional results with this and the Scottsdale based food chain has recently transferred their entire Twitter budget to be served via mobile only.
This also means increased options for marketing agencies, as Twitter campaigns will be quick and easy to set up. Here’s a video released by Twitter, showcasing their new service:
Seems pretty cool? That’s because it is cool, and it’s exactly what Twitter needed. But despite introducing Targeted Tweets, it still doesn’t have the same targeting options that Facebook advertisers have access to. Twitter has some pretty amazing algorithms that track who users follow and mention in their tweets, but it’s not on the same level as Facebook. So yes, Promoted Products could be great for small businesses, but due to its lack of targeting options it might not necessarily benefit local service businesses like plumbers and electricians. However, small online businesses could see greater success.
Twitter Mobile Ad Success
Twitter has always thrived on the mobile platform, so it shouldn’t be any great surprise that ads served via their mobile platform have been more successful. Twitter’s instant and continuous conversations allow people to be engaged on-the-go. It’s what people love about the platform. Twitter has also reported that a little over 60% of its users access Twitter via their mobile devices (Wall Street Journal, 2012). Therefore it makes logical sense that mobile ads are receiving higher clicks than desktop. This is a clear indication of how advertisers can begin using the Promoted Products service more efficiently.
But What About The User Experience?
My main concern around advertising on Twitter going forward relates to the user’s experience. As I mentioned above, Twitter users love the platform for its instantaneous capabilities, its on-the-go nature, and the level of personal interest that one can subscribe to. In turn, brands love the platform for its insight to consumer behaviour and the opportunity to benefit from natural conversation.
So what’s going to happen when the Promoted Products feature is finally released globally? Advertisers can’t afford to ignore the platform and its simple advertising capabilities, especially once competitors start advertising through Twitter. We might well see companies and small businesses indirectly flooding the platform with Promoted Products, Trends and Accounts, and ultimately forcing user’s interest out of Twitter. Imagine if you logged into your account and had one Promoted Tweet for every two ‘organic’ tweets? Ultimately the user experience could be impacted over time, as users become annoyed with different promotions being thrown at them. It’s great that Twitter has taken the next step in monetising their platform. My only concern is how they increase their advertising revenue while retaining the great user experience that currently exists.
I’m definitely going to watch as they roll this out over the coming months, and keep an eye on any other advertising options they release. What are your thoughts?