Twitter announced Promoted Tweets, their new advertising solution and, quite possibly, their primary business model for the foreseeable future. It’s no surprise Twitter is aiming its flagship product at online marketers but the question all of us in the online advertising community has is the most basic – will the ads actually work? Will they drive brand value? Will they drive conversions? Will they drive the countless conversion metrics proven to work in other forms of online advertising, particularly paid search?
My early impression is that they will. Twitter has maintained a focus on click through rate (CTR) that has been the workhorse for search engines since the early days. No matter what the engines tell you, in addition to the actual bid price CTR has been the primary metric for determining where paid search ads rank. So it’s nice to see Twitter take a page from Google, Yahoo and Bing’s books.
Twitter takes it a few steps further though by using a few new metrics to determine how effective a Promoted Tweet is. Twitter will measure how often a Promoted Tweet gets
• Replied to
• Retweeted, and
These concepts will be familiar to anybody who’s ever tweeted but they’ll be considered new metrics to online advertisers who are buying and optimizing Promoted Tweets. At Omniture we love new metrics, particularly metrics like these that can be clearly measured and optimized.
Other nuances I found interesting were that Promoted Tweets would only show up on search results pages and there would only be one Promoted Tweet per search results page. Furthermore, stale Promoted Tweets would come down after a period of time, though Twitter didn’t say when. They simply stated, “Promoted Tweets will also be timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between you and a Promoted Tweet in real-time provides a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment.”
Interestingly, early reviews of Promoted Tweets were somewhat neutral though the comments section of this Ad Age piece had a lot of “don’t be evil” and “please get this right!” comments, indicating an expected but healthy skepticism by the advertising community. On Twitter itself, Promoted Tweets are not resonating well. According to Twitter Sentiment, 71% of tweets that used the hashtag #promotedtweets were negative, though I don’t see this as a major problem. (Yet.)
I think Twitter is off to a good start with their new advertising model and I look forward to finding ways to test and optimize Promoted Tweets. They’re taking a user-centric approach by focusing on CTR, replies, retweets and favorites that will, by design, weed out inane Promoted Tweets. They’re viewing Promoted Tweets as content which gives Twitter the best chance of keeping their users happy and, we hope, actually provide “a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment.” If they succeed, the early negative sentiment we’re seeing on Twitter today will fade and Twitter will run a healthy, perhaps phenomenally successful business. We’ll see how it goes and we’re excited at this new addition to the online advertising ecosystem.