Updated with roll out of conversion tracking tool.
As Twitter closes its most important year to date, the company is rapidly adding features in a concerted effort to boost revenues and compete for advertising dollars among the likes of Facebook and Google. Promoted accounts, one of Twitter’s few ad products currently available, are now coming to the timeline via the company’s iOS and Android apps.
First launched in 2010, promoted accounts were exclusively relegated to the “who to follow” section on Twitter’s site. But following a limited trial, Twitter is now selling any advertiser promoted accounts ads that will appear in mobile timelines. The company says 76 percent of its users access Twitter on a mobile device, but it doesn’t provide numbers on how many of those interactions are happening on third-party apps or devices running on other platforms.
Twitter describes promoted accounts in timeline ads as an opportunity to increase followers. “These recommendations leverage tweets as a call to action and display natively in the home timeline. For example, a new coffee shop could run a geo-targeted promoted accounts campaign in the timeline to build awareness about their business and explain why users should follow them on Twitter,” Tarun Jain, product manager of revenue at Twitter, writes in a blog post.
Wall Street has been particularly kind to Twitter this month. With stock nearing $60 and hitting its highest mark to date on Monday, the company is riding a wave of positive outlooks despite a glaring misstep along the way.
A recent survey of more than 900 advertisers conducted by RBC and Ad Age found that 71 percent were already using Twitter as a marketing tool and 80 percent plan to buy ads on Twitter within a year. A majority, or 59 percent, of the respondents also said they plan to increase spending on Twitter in 2014. Another 40 percent of those surveyed, report a rise on their return on investment in Twitter ads over the previous six months.
Indeed, the recently publicly traded company is barreling down a long and still unpaved road to profitability. Like its competitors, Twitter relies almost exclusively on ad revenue to make a buck. So while the company makes mistakes, like its short-lived decision to change how its block function works, analysts and investors appear undeterred as they seek to elevate and justify Twitter’s role and opportunity in social advertising.
The promoted accounts in timeline ads, which still carry the beta tag, will appear in the timelines of users on the company’s iOS and Android apps. The ad format also includes a tweet that should explain why users might want to follow the brand. Twitter promises that its “users can rest assured that this beta won’t change the frequency of ads users see on the platform.”
The new or repurposed ad format may not be enough to keep Twitter’s stock on the up and up alone, but the company’s other recent changes like broad match for keyword targeting appear to be helping.
Also supporting Twitter's efforts is the roll out of their conversion tracking tool for marketers/advertisers to better measure and understand their promoted tweet campaigns, with the end game of optimizing cost per acquisition.
Conversion attribution will track the usual conversion as it happens but will also bring in data on post-engagement conversions: "Tweet expands, retweets, replies, favorites, follows that a user performs on a Promoted Tweet before converting," Twitter announced in a blog post.
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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.
March 19, 2014