Marketers Don’t Get the Value of Twitter Advertising

6 Twitter Advertising Issues to Consider

Place Your Ad Here There’s chatter in the media and blogsphere that Twitter advertising is expensive and doesn’t work. (To read the details firsthand, check Investor.com here and here, MediaBistro’s AllTwitter blog and eConsultancy’s blog.) Now that the dust is starting to settle, a number of marketers are stepping up to the microphone to report mediocre results in terms of business performance with Twitter’s new advertising offering, geo-targeted Promoted Products (including tweets, accounts and trends) rolled out earlier this year.

These negative reviews are surprising since initial Twitter advertisers claimed success. Of course, early Twitter advertisers were marketing elites with big pocketbooks and diverse branding media buys. For example, part of Virgin’s rationale for being one of the early advertisers was to be associated with the hot new advertising platform. Look closer at their generous price promotion on Twitter and you’ll see that it was a no brainer.

6 Factors Hindering Twitter Advertising Results

In my opinion, these guys are wrong. These Twitter results sounds like the early days of Internet advertising when advertising click-through rates and results were abysmally low. Like banner and other forms of display advertising, a large part of the Twitter advertising impact is branding related. The marketers in these articles only focused on direct response advertising metrics.

  1. Twitter’s ad costs may not be in line with market expectations. Twitter priced their advertising as a branding and just-in-time vehicle (think movies and PR crises). Marketers mentioned in these articles expected direct response, action-oriented advertising.
  2. Twitter ad messages may be complete without click-throughs. I’ve seen this on tweets where the content of the message is Twitter bait. People retweet or share content without reading the content.
  3. Twitter advertising messages are constrained by the platform. Communications can contain a maximum of 140 characters.
  4. Twitter ads aren’t targeted well enough. The commentary shows that advertisers expected a targeted buy like they can get from Google or Facebook. Twitter may not have that capability.
  5. Twitter ad copy may be ineffective for the medium. Since Twitter is a new advertising medium, there hasn’t been sufficient learning as to how copy needs to be presented to get users to click-through.
  6. Twitter advertising may perform differently on Twitter’s site versus on applications. This is an issue since a good percentage of Twitter activity occurs on application sites where Twitter has limited if any control. Further, there’s a good possibility that more experienced users tend to use applications not Twitter.com.

3 Suggestions to Improve Twitter Advertising Effectiveness

It’s a sure bet that Twitter advertising will continue to evolve. Over time, pricing, performance and marketers’ expectations will be better aligned. To that end, here are three areas that Twitter should examine.

  1. Offer better targeting. Without additional user information, Twitter could use other targeting options like hashtags.
  2. Collect more user information. While I don’t like this as a Twitter user, it’s one way to expand targeting options.
  3. Provide an easier to respond to, Twitter-specific call-to-action. It should work within Twitter’s 140 character constraint and be easily identifiable like a Twitter QR code.

The initial Twitter advertisers were primo name brands where being part of the new platform’s novelty was part of their media buy decision. As a result, it didn’t matter how well the Twitter ads performed since they were part of larger branding effort. The reality is that the current wave of advertisers who wanted direct response advertising should have considered these factors when they decided to use Twitter.

Have you used Twitter advertising? If so, what was your experience? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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