Twitter is struggling to keep up with rivals like Facebook and Snapchat, and embracing live sports streaming in an effort to differentiate itself and maintain relevance.
But Twitter isn’t giving up on its core offering, and has just made its conversational ads product available to all advertisers globally.
Conversational ads were launched earlier this year in beta. At the time, Clickz’s Tessa Wegert explained that conversational ads were designed to drive “consumers to participate in brand led discussions by sharing predetermined brand messages and hashtags.”
According to Twitter, they do just that. During the conversational ads beta, for every 100 impressions brands paid for, they received on average 34 earned impressions.
Now all advertisers will have the ability to tap conversational ads and drive earned media on Twitter. And they’ll have a potentially powerful new tool to do so with the launch of a new Instant Unlock Card that further encourages users to engage with conversational ads.
As Twitter’s Ilya Brown explained, the Instant Unlock Card “[incentivizes] users to Tweet by offering access to exclusive content (e.g., a film’s trailer or an exclusive Q&A) after the Tweet is sent.”
For example, cable channel AMC used an Instant Unlock Card to promote the premiere of its show, The Walking Dead.
— The Barista Bar (@baristabar) July 27, 2016
Earned media, but at what cost?
Access to exclusive content is a compelling value proposition – one that can even convince consumers to turn off their ad blockers – so it won’t be surprising to see brands turn to conversational ads that take advantage of the Instant Unlock Card feature.
But the kind of earned media conversational ads deliver might come at a cost.
TheNextWeb’s Napier Lopez suggests that “Twitter’s new ad format sounds a lot like legitimizing clickbait” and argues that brands don’t necessarily have to deliver value. “They could promise you a cool trailer, but what if it ends up being completely dull and boring?
Well, it doesn’t matter – you’ve already retweeted the brand’s message. Sure, you could delete your tweet after watching, but who’s actually going to do that?” he writes.
It’s a legitimate concern, and particularly relevant in light of the fact that one of Twitter’s biggest competitors, Facebook, is stepping up its efforts to curb clickbait on its network.
That doesn’t mean that brands should avoid using Instant Unlock Cards, but those that take advantage of the feature should aim to ensure they’re not overpromising and underdelivering. If they do, they can expect to see the efficacy of their future campaigns decline as consumers lose trust, and if too many brands overpromise and underdeliver, Twitter users could quickly tire of them.
With social media reach and engagement rates having dipped so precipitously over the last year or so, paying to play is the only option for most brands now.
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