Twitter – Self-serve Advertising Should be in Every Marketer’s Toolkit

by F+A Staff

February 4, 2015

Twitter’s advertising systems have evolved slowly over the last several years. Many of the company’s original initiatives focused on larger brands and massive budgets, leaving smaller advertisers with a difficult challenge in convincing stakeholders of the power of the platform.

However – as Twitter has grown to more than an estimated 500 million users, the company is taking steps to build advertising programs for smaller fish, including a new self-serve advertising platform that we think should be in every marketer’s toolkit.

Twitter’s self-serve system formally launched last week for all users in the U.S., but we’ve been using it for the last couple of months and we are very impressed.

The system takes a lot of lessons from Google AdWords, Google’s self-serve search advertising, combining a simple interface that allows anyone to create an ad with a number of very advanced features allowing experts to take their campaigns to the next level.

Twitter’s system allows three basic types of ads: promoted Tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends. I’m going to highlight promoted Tweets, because that is where I think Twitter’s system really shines.

Promoted tweets can appear in users’ timelines, search results pages and a few other places utilizing some advanced features. The ads can be targeted in three main ways.

1. Interest targeting: Twitter uses a number of factors, including the types of content users engage with, to identify users interested in a number of niche topics. Advertisers can tap into this powerful database by either selecting one of a number of pre-set interest areas, such as “video games,” or by selecting a user who represents the interest area, such as @Xbox. Twitter will then show your ad to a list of users it has identified as caring about that interest area, or users who are similar to followers of the account you identified.

2. Keyword targeting: Similar to Google and other search engines, Twitter can show ads when a user searches for a particular keyword. The beauty of Twitter’s system, however, is that it will also show ads to a user when they interact with a tweet that contains the keywords. Continuing the video game example, if a user retweeted a tweet from Microsoft that contained the word Xbox, that user would then see ads targeting the keyword “Xbox.”

3. Profile targeting: This feature enables advertisers to promote content on their own profile pages. This allows advertisers to select their best content and showcase it the first time a new user visits their page.

This targeting is combined with a very robust analytics interface that, while not up to par with Google Analytics or Google’s AdWords Data, is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of Facebook’s self-serve analytics.

All things considered, we’re very excited about Twitter ads, and look forward to continued updates in the months and years to come.

Originally published on May 7, 2013

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