eCommerce Insiders

The Twitter Search Marketing Transformation with Promoted Tweets

Twitter has been making some drastic steps lately in their quest to control their revenue destiny. While their growth has been propelled through ubiquitous Twitter API integrations created by countless developers, all these apps are now a threat to the future of Twitter’s commercial success. Twitter needs to own the entire user experience in order to efficiently monetize their platform.

In love with the ad-free experience, and feeling slighted by Twitter, thousands of developers are vying to create their own Twitter-esque platform. This too shall pass. Commercialization usually wins, and those with products to sell need to push for efficient advertising options over above altruistic anti-commercialism social concerns. (Where would we be if Google had never decided to efficiently monetize?)

Given the enemies they’ve had to make of their partners,Twitter’s transformation is still in a precarious position. They can’t go whole hog just yet with the roll out of their advertising platform.

These growing pains were seen in a recent experience I had with their Promoted Tweets product.

Promoted Tweets have been around for a while, but they really haven’t caught on significantly. As a search marketer, I assumed I’d be able to simply pay to have my “ad” (really just the140 character tweet of my choosing) show up at the top of the search results for whatever keyword or hashtag I wanted to target.

With that assumption, I launched my Promoted Tweet campaign. Actually, I forgot to mention the previous step. It was in June that I initially wanted to launch a Twitter campaign so I signed up for Twitter’s advertising program. I kept checking my inbox for my advertiser account details. A month later I was accepted. Pretty odd that a service in desperate need for commercial acceptance would have a 1 month cooling-off period. Strike one.

Back to the Promoted Tweet campaign. In July I was finally allowed to create my campaign, but the promotional need had passed. A week ago a new promotional opportunity arose so I decided to log back in and pay to promote a tweet.

Something seemed amiss as I got to the last step of their campaign-creation wizard. At no point was there an option to actually target my promoted tweet to any specific search. I read the fine print… it basically said that they would use their own black-box method based on the profiles of my followers to figure out when to show my promoted tweet.

About 15 minutes into the launch of my campaign, and $12 later, I realized how foolish it would be for me pay for such untargeted traffic. I was convinced there must be a way to explicitly target hashtags, so I found their help link and sent in a support request. To their credit, the reply came within an hour.

Here was the reply:

We don’t currently support promoting Tweets against #hashtag searches in this Ad Product. Promoted Tweets will be surfaced in the timelines of accounts similar to those who follow you.

More info here. Hope that helps!

It didn’t help. Blowing off some steam, I sent a passive-aggressive response.

This is very strange. I guess I took for granted that such obvious targeting functionality would be possible. (I do come from the search marketing world with Google AdWords, so perhaps it is only obvious to me.)

This response came 12 minutes later:

Would you be interested in access to an advanced UI? There you *can* target keywords, have more control over campaigns, and will see a deeper set of analytics.

Much happiness was conveyed in my reply:

YEEEESSS!!! Thanks! Please set me up

Very strange that I had to press them to even let me know that the advanced UI was available with the targeting I wanted in the first place. Now that you know about this advanced UI, GET IT! Remember to ask nicely.

Here are some highlights to the advanced version of the Twitter ads dashboard:

  • Promote specific Tweets you select (full control, not auto-selected)
  • Different sets of Tweets (you control) going to different audiences and geographies
  • Target users on different devices: mobile vs desktops
  • Target followers only, or your non-followers only
  • Promote Tweets you create without having to Tweet them to all followers first
  • More budget and time controls
  • Set a total campaign budget; Set a start and end date

By the way, we’ve had good success in the past week with our Promoted Tweet campaign. Going into the holidays, retailers will probably see great results targeting product names for people looking for reviews before they purchase. A promoted tweet offering a discount would likely have a huge response.

Chris Crompton is the Group Marketing Manager at ROI Revolution, a retail-focused digital marketing agency.

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