Twitter is trying to map the path from tweets to offline purchases. By measuring the impact of social engagement on in-store sales, the social network is encouraging major brands like Mondelez International to further engage with promoted and organic tweets for what it calls “offline sales lift.”
To help connect the dots between tweets and in-store purchases, Twitter turned to Datalogix, a data-matching firm that’s been making similar connections for Facebook and its advertisers for almost a year now. Datalogix recently tested the impact of organic and promoted tweets for 35 brands, and found that both can be correlated to an increase in offline sales.
"Advertisers need data to prove that their campaigns are working. The promise of digital has always been data and having the numbers to prove advocacy. Increasingly it's been to close the gap between offline conversions and online campaigns, and in recent years there's been a tremendous move and more and more ability to do that,” says Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter Group. “Facebook and Twitter are now attempting what many other online advertisers are attempting, which is to close that gap. This is how you get those retail advertising dollars and those consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertising dollars."
Twitter’s initial studies with Datalogix focused on CPG categories such as beverages, food, wellness, household products and alcohol. The results reveal the potential value of the tweet for CPG marketers, but the conclusions are also limited to 35 brands that could have simply been selected for the study based on their level of success.
When users engaged with one of those brand’s promoted tweets, in-store sales lifted an average of 12 percent. Sales still averaged a 2 percent lift among users who just saw but didn’t click on the brand’s promoted tweets. Offline sales also lifted 8 percent on average among users who were exposed to a brand’s organic tweets, according to Twitter. Meanwhile, followers who were exposed to promoted tweets purchased 29 percent more from that brand in store than followers who only saw organic tweets.
"The more marketers can prove that their spend is resulting in some sort of demonstrable return on investment (ROI), the more inclined they're going to be to spend money in those channels,” says Lieb.
She calls the new feature from Twitter “extraordinarily similar” to that of Facebook, and perhaps that’s by design. Of course both companies are only able to make these connections for their advertisers because of their respective partnerships with Datalogix.
The data being used to string social activity to offline sales conversions may come from the same firm, but Twitter and Facebook do differentiate greatly on their advertising products. Twitter relies almost exclusively on ads that closely mimic the look and function of all other tweets, whereas Facebook offers many more advertising options all the way up to “straight media buys,” says Lieb.
“What kind of halo effect are social media channels going to have on offline sales when combined with broadcast advertising or even with product placement/native advertising in programming?” she adds. “It’s exciting that, while not perfect, the means for measuring this type of engagement and converting that type of engagement into dollars and cents is becoming a reality.”
According to Twitter, it can now measure the impact of promoted and organic tweets on offline sales for CPG businesses in the US, and it hopes to expand the offering to more industries and countries.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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