Twitter extends conversational targeting across its network

Company says new audience platform more than doubles its effective reach

Twitter has expanded its social targeting tools and premium ad units across partnered mobile sites in its MoPub network, so advertisers can now run campaigns across a much larger breadth of mobile inventory.

By extending its audience beyond its own site, Twitter says it can now give advertisers access to 700 million global users — more than double the 310 million active users that it sees on its own site each month.

The changes were part of a global rollout (yes, in Canada too) of the new Twitter Audience Platform (TAP), which will replace Twitter’s old Publisher Network. TAP makes extending a Twitter campaign across its network as easy as ticking off a checkbox during campaign setup. More importantly, it adds the ability to seek out “lookalikes,” (i.e. consumers within its broader network that share attributes and behaviour with targeted Twitter users).

From the sounds of it, TAP is very similar to the Facebook Audience Network, which Facebook introduced last year to extend its own audience targeting tools to partner sites. But for Twitter, this is a much bigger deal since its audience growth has been lagging behind other social networks like Instagram and Snapchat, and it’s facing questions about its long-term viability.

Twitter Canada head of account management Gareth Smith said that TAP will be differentiated from other large-scale audience networks largely through its social targeting techniques that are based on conversations users have, hashtags they’ve recently searched for and interests they’ve shown over time.

For example, consider a major event like Black Friday. “You can come to Twitter and buy ads against folks who are searching for that hashtag or keyword, and either taking part in or watching that conversation,” Smith said. “Not only can you serve your ads on the Twitter-owned and operated platform, you can extend that to folks who look like those individuals on our audience platform. That’s the key piece — taking our conversational data and extending it to the largest reach possible.”

Through TAP, Twitter’s data can now be applied to premium ad formats on partner sites, like full-page interstitials and autoplay video, he said.

TAP has been available for several months to a handful of preferred clients. Mindshare Canada is one of the agencies that have had access, and chief strategy officer Devon MacDonald said the extended reach will have a big impact on how media planners think about the channel.

“The real gem here is the combination of targeting and reach opportunities – particularly off-platform,” he said. Extending Twitter’s data beyond its own site will mean advertisers can send consumers highly relevant messages across a range of apps they’re using, and since relevancy drives action on mobile more than any other platform, clients can expect to drive a lot more of the actions they’re looking for.

Macy’s, Samsung and JBL are reportedly among the advertisers that have tested the platform. Both JBL and Macy’s told Digiday that 8% of mobile users that saw ads engaged with them, a rate substantially above benchmark even for campaigns on Twitter’s home site.

Smith said that on average, clients have seen their campaigns’ reach increased by 70%, along with a 2x increase in campaign efficiency.

Correction: The initial draft of this story said that campaigns using the new platform averaged a 2% increase in efficiency. This was a misquote. Campaigns actually saw a 2x increase in efficiency on average.

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