This past month of March saw the launch of Twitter’s promoted suite for mobile. It has been nearly two since Twitter launched the same products for the desktop. Twitter has taken an extremely cautious approach to launching all its promoted products and has learnt from its Quickbar fiasco.
My interest in the subject of Twitter advertising was piqued through an old blog post by Augie Ray on Forrester’s endorsement of ‘sponsored conversations’ or paid blog post advertising. In the blog he refutes Forrester’s position on the topic, which results in Forrester taking notice of blog and engaging Augie in a back and forth discussion. FYI this blog post helped Augie get noticed by Foresster where he eventually went on to work as Senior Analyst for Interactive Marketing.
Anyways, while reading about how sponsored conversation didn’t make sense for bloggers my mind turned to micro-bloggers or Twitterers, I had just noticed a couple of tweets with the #ad next to them, did the same rules apply for them? Well I certainly think so. Having used the #ad even once will make your followers doubt the credibility of anything else your endorse in the future. But contrary to my belief I found this radio show on Sponsored Tweets blog in which IZEA’s CEO Ted Murphy talks about how a sponsored tweet by Kim Kardashian brought down a company’s servers.
Well this is where I find myself a little confused, the whole reason we turn to social media for reviews and recommendations on what to buy are because we believe that these are being made real people and these are their honest and genuine opinions. The whole act of sponsored tweets feels like we’re moving back to TV and print ads where you have celebrities like Kim Kardashian making false claims about the abilities of a hair removal product she endorses. And yes I know that the sponsored tweets are solely the opinions of the Twitterer, I find that extremely hard to believe that you wouldn’t be biased to company that is paying you to tweet.
And this where I feel Twitter’s promoted products could win. Let’s take the promoted tweets for example. By promoting a tweet by celebrity your getting rid of the #ad and thereby differentiating advertiser and editor and make it seem more like the thoughts represent those of the individual tweeting. As for promoted tweets by the brand itself, a number brands are witnessing varying levels of success. You can find all the successful Twitter campaigns using promoted products on Twitter’s business website. The targeting capability is also really impressive as i learned through this Alchemy infograph from a couple of weeks ago. However I have learnt that Twitter still lacks is the ability to target mobile users based on their geography, which is extremely important considering the success of offers/discounts on Twitter and how well they could do if they were promoted to the right mobile audience.
In terms of metrics to measure the success of a Twitter campaign, I really like that costs are based on costs per engagement and gives you an easier way to assess your qualified reach through Twitter. I think that the same metrics of a banner ad should be applied to promoted products. To me promoted products feel like a more developed and smarter version of banner ads and the same norms as creating a banner ad should be employed. For example while behavioral targeting worry with banner ads is negated through Twitters targeting ability marketers still need to pay attention to their creative and ones that have a really compelling piece of content. Also similar to banner ads the introduction of Twitters new self serve platform for SMB’s should hopefully drive down the prices of Twitter ads as more brands look to get on there. On a side note to that, I think that American Express is really doing a great job with social media first with Foursquare and now with Twitter.
The challenges going forward are huge for Twitter, while it is currently trying to weed all the spam out of its system, Facebook is soon to join the advertising game. And with its much larger user base will certainly be a go to option for marketers over Twitter.