Twitter advertising

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Advertising on Twitter is not that familiar to many businesses from the non-us region. Which is not that surprising, given that Twitter has only expanded its advertising reach across majority of Europe in the second half of 2014.

Considering the above, me might even say that Twitter advertising is still in its birth years, far away from competitors such as Facebook. But, this also means that the competition is much less fierce (according to the statistics from Twitter, about 100.000 advertisers are active on the Twitter advertising platform).

What this also means is that it should be much easier to differentiate yourself with a good ad copy, than it would be on Adwords or Facebook, where your competitors have already established firm ground.

Of course, less competition does not neccessarily mean bigger profits, but in the case of Twitter, we have to take into consideration the shear number of Twitter users, which gives the whole perspective of Twitter advertising a different dimension. Let`s look at a couple of facts that go a long way in proving that advertising on Twitter might be the thing you are looking for to go into the untapped portion of your target market:

  1. 310 million ACTIVE users each month
  2. 1 billion monthly visits
  3. 83% Twitter users are mobile
  4. 79% Twitter user accounts are outside the US


Advertising saturation

The volume of ads on many online platforms is just astounding, which most us know from painful experience. Monetization of digital publishing platforms that base their existance on the large user base (together with social networks, we can add to this category the majority of large news websites that seemingly provide content for free), can be very complicated and demanding. Heck, to some, monetization is not even attainable.

Monetization has been a burning issue for Twitter since its creation – Twitter didn`t have an advertising platform up until 2013. (when it was rolled out in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada). Until that moment, Twitter was solely financed by venture capital – and was practically without any self-generated income.

There was even a moment when it was quite questionable whether Twitter will ever turn a profit, which did not happen up until last year. For an internet start-up that was, well, started in the long gone 2006., this is a really long and troublesome time span.

Back to the digital platforms in question – advertising is mostly their main source of income, which is why an aggresive advertising policy is the most important vehicle in the race for higher stock prices.

Twitter ad saturation is low enough to turn heads

But, what makes Twitter that interesting is in fact the “Ad load” statistic – the number that measures a quantity of advertising per one content piece. According to this number (Twitter is at the moment settled at 1.3%) Twitter is well below the competing platforms such as Facebook, when it comes to advertising saturation.

To the savvy advertiser, this means now is the moment to experiment and measure the ROI, because Twitter users are not as resilient to advertising as are users on other social networks such as Facebook.

Differences between Facebook and Twitter

Facebook is a platform that values most its social component. Connections between friends and family make the sole fabric of what is Facebook. On the other side, Twitter is all about the conversation that revolves around a certain topic, or more importantly, event (mostly live events, which is the strategical goal of Twitter in the future, according to its founder).

Twitter encourages conversations (primarily through the use of hashtags) and connects an audience that doesn`t have to have any other social or family connection. This alone brings the quality of conversation on Twitter to a whole different level than on Facebook. You don`t have to talk to someone just because they are your friends or relatives – you can guess that this makes conversations on Twitter much more constructive and meaningful. Of course, some conversations are just plain crazy (but fun to watch).

There is also the 140-character limitation (which counts in the usernames and links you might place in a single tweet) which facilitates the creativity and conciseness of the conversation.

Twitter advertising user interface

Even though it might seem odd to discuss the user interface in the context of advertising possibilities of Twitter, it is well worth noting that the UX is quite easy to use and much simpler than that of Facebook.

Of course, each UX demands some learning and getting used to, but Twitter has really worked hard to make it possible for virtually anyone to start an advertising campaign on their platform.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter even lets you advertise your regular user profile.

A great user experience definitely increases the chances of more people using a certain web app, and in this sense, Twitter has gone a long way to make its advertising platform accessible to the broadest audience possible.

Twitter event targeting

Let’s move away from the statistics for a moment, and talk about some really interesting Twitter advertising possibilities that are not possible on similar platforms to the same extent as they are on Twitter. Definitely, the most interesting is the live event targeting.

Event targeting allows you to time and display your ads together with the happening of a certain event in the world, for example, such an event would be this year`s European footbal championship.

The nature of Twitter itself is such that it has become a very important live news source for the entire world. Enormous amounts of tweets that happen each second and the immediate nature of those tweets are just not comparable to any other digital (or offline) platform.

One number in particular rings a bell – there are some 500 million tweets published each day. How great is the possibility to place your ad in such a massive live context!

Twitter Lead Generation Cards – painless opt-in device

One of the more interesting advertising possibilities on Twitter is the “Lead generation” campaign. It gives you the ability to collect contact information (primarily e-mails and names) of Twitter users who are exposed to your ad.

From a marketing perspective, there`s some brilliance to this – unlike similar e-mail collection strategies (for example, via a Like Tab on Facebook, or through a website), in the “Lead generation” ad, the visitor’s information is already pre-filled in the opt-in form within the ad itself. The only thing the Twitter user has to do, is click the button – and the e-mail is yours.

Simplicity and speed are crucial on the web – this is why this campaign strategy works so well. Especially when you combine it with a great e-mail software such as MailChimp, where you can run segmented and tailored e-mail campaigns targeted only to your Twitter contacts.

Other advertising options on Twitter

What follows below is an overview of the options available on the Twitter advertising platform:

Twitter campaign types
Twitter campaign types
  1. Followers – the goal of this campaign is to build a base of followers for your Twitter user profile. This option is the least popular among advertisers. Building your Twitter follower base should be done through quality content and constructive conversation – paying for followers is not inline with that. Whatsmore, it’s not that easy to calculate the ROI (return on investment) per each Twitter follower, which makes the whole campaign questionable in terms of profitability. Organic follower base makes much more sense, even though it’s much more difficult and takes more time.But, in the long run, there’s really no alternative, because to get quality conversations, you really need a follower base that expresses interest in what you say. This is why, in my honest opinion, this type of campaign is better to be avoided. But, there probably are situations where it makes sense to buy followers, so it is worth noting that such option exists. This type of campaign is displayed inside the Twitter timeline and in the section “Who to follow”. Paying is based on the number of acquired followers.
  2. Website clicks / conversions – the goal of this campaign is to increase traffic to your website. This means that the ads take Twitter users directly to your website. This type of campaign is displayed in the Twitter timeline and in between the search results on Twitter. Payment is pay-per-click.
  3. Tweet engagements – the goal of this campaign is to encourage conversation, which can revolve around a promoted (not present in your timeline) or organic tweet (kind of like a Facebook post boosting) that is already present in your timeline. This type of campaign is displayed in the Twitter timeline and in between the search results on Twitter. Payment if per engagement (which includes retweeting, replying and favoring a tweet). This type of campaign is quite useful if you want to encourage a conversation around a certain topic and include a broader audience, or you just want to increase the exposure of your profile into a particular theme segment.
  4. App installs – the goal of this campaign is to promote your mobile app. The users are displayed an ad with a button (inside the timeline) that either opens your app (if it is already installed in the user’s phone) or install your app on the phone (if it is not already installed). The ad is displayed in the Twitter timeline only on mobile devices. Payment is based per app open or installation.
  5. Video views – a new type of campaign (still in beta version) where users can watch your video within the timeline through a native Twitter video player. The user experience of watching such a video is quite good, which makes it more practical to, well, watch it. This in turn increases your chances of someone actually viewing your video and sharing it with their Twitter followers. This campaign is displayed in the Twitter timeline and in between the search results on Twitter. Payment is per video views.
  6. Leads on Twitter – as I’ve mentioned earlier, this type of campaign gives you the possibility to collect contact information from Twitter users directly inside the Twitter timeline and search results.

It’s also worth mentioning that campaigns under 1,2 and 3 provide the possibility to create ads in the following ways:

  1. Promoted-only tweets – creating tweets that are only promotional in nature (therefore, they are not visible in your timeline) and are used only for advertising campaigns. In essence, this is a textual ad in the form of a tweet with a possibility to add image – even though Twitter does not recommend adding images and notes that text-only ads bring better results.
  2. Scheduled Tweet – same principle as the aforementioned promoted tweets, with the possibility of timing the publishing of the tweet inside the campaign. For example, you can create five different tweets with pre-scheduled publishing dates into the future. By doing so, for example, you can publish one new tweet each day through five days without having to edit the campaign at all. This is pretty useful if you want to run the campaign for an extensive period of time, without the need to manage it on a daily basis. This also keeps your campaign fresh (by publishing new tweets / ads regularly) in the eyes of your audience, so that you don’t annoy anyone with the same ol’ ad. This is also something Twitter strongly recommends.
  3. Organic Tweets – displaying organic-only tweets in your ads, which means you are publishing ads based on the tweets that are already present in your timeline – we can draw a parallel here with Facebook – the boosted posts is a similar strategy where you promote already published posts on the Facebook page.
Twitter ad types
Twitter ad types

Audience targeting possibilities

Each of the above campaign types provides the same targeting possibilities, which is done through the following:

    1. Geolocation – audience targeting through selecting a particular (or multiple) country
    2. Language
    3. Sex
    4. Devices and platforms – you can target an audience through choosing only users who run for example iOS, Android, Blackberry, desktop and other devices. When it comes to iOS and Android, you can even choose particular brands and device models.
    5. Targeting new Twitter users – you can choose to display ads only to those users that have begun using Twitter for a predetermined period of time (for example, one month ago on the current device).
    6. Mobile carriers – for about 20 countries worldwide, Twitter gives the ability to chose only those Twitter accounts that connect to internet through a particular mobile carrier
    7. Interests – this is the ability to target certain interests present with your audience through the usage of given keywords, followers (you can even enter followers by using the @ symbol), targeting of TV audiences that follow certain TV shows and programs. You can also target Twitter profiles that follow certain events and are involved in the conversation around that event live on Twitter.


Through numerous audience targeting options that are simply not available on similar platforms (not just in terms of technical availability of a certain targeting feature, but through the possibilities that are derived from the fact that conversations on Twitter are much more topic oriented and easy to target with the high amount of Twitter profiles weighing in on the conversation than would be case on Facebook), Twitter advertising deserves our attention as a very promising promotional platform. Of course, there are no guarantees, so it is very important to experiment and discover whether Twitter is the right thing for your business. If it is, you can expect very good results with a reasonable investment – this is, in the end, what every business owner and marketing manager is after.