The Twitter Interest Targeting Guide for Advertisers – Part 1

Twitter’s advertising platform just made some big improvements.  Today, Twitter announced Interest Targeting for Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts.  So, what’s changed, how does it work and what does this mean for you?

Looking back on the old way:

Twitter’s interest graph automatically identified “relevant” tweets and accounts by targeting users who share interests with your current followers.  But, there was limited control and transparency (and, dare I say it, huge inaccuracies) for these shared interests.  How relevant were these promoted tweets? It always seemed like a big hit or miss with my account.   Here’s a huge miss. I was served an Old Spice Promoted Tweet:


Sorry Twitter, I do not have an interest in Old Spice (or any scents for that matter) while I’m on Twitter – highly irrelevant.


The benefits of the new way:

There’s 2 ways to implement Interest Targeting for your Twitter campaign: by category or by @username. Not all Twitter campaigns are the same, so here’s my take on how businesses should use them:

1.    By Categorical Interest: Twitter offers advertisers over 350 interest categories that you can target. (Image from Twitter Advertising Blog)


The two-level interest hierarchy makes it convenient to reach several categories without having to check each box. Here’s my recommendations:

For Promoted Accounts, I’d encourage you to target as many categories as possible – by using the “All” button at the top of the second hierarchy of categories.  This will give you the most reach possible for your account to gain new followers.

For Promoted Tweets, you’ll want to do the complete opposite. Target fewer and only the most relevant categories that match the context of the tweet.  You’ll see why at the bottom of this post! (in the Added Bonus section)


2.    By @username: I’ve been giving Twitter a hard time for not allowing advertisers to target specific users or specific account’s followers.  Well unfortunately, you still can’t.  However, they released the next best thing that allows you to target the interests of @username’s followers.  Good stuff! Let’s take a look at how to use this targeting option for your Promoted campaigns.
Promoted Accounts: Because this targeting option includes creating custom segments, your reach will be significantly smaller.  Therefore, B2C businesses should refrain from this as it would take a lot of time and effort to create the custom segments, and there may be limited reach.  On the other hand, I’d encourage B2B marketers to use the @username targeting to target their competitors and/or industry-related publications.  Since there are most likely only a few dozen of those accounts at most, the campaign will be more manageable, but more importantly more relevant and valuable for your business.

Promoted Tweets: With promoted tweets, I would again encourage B2B marketers to use this format of targeting, as it will be reaching a highly relevant audience.  For B2C marketers, this targeting option may not be a great option with Promoted Tweets, as you would need to find specific accounts that are regularly tweeting semantically related content to your Promoted Tweet.  This task may be incredibly time-consuming and difficult for a limited amount of reach.


How would I use Twitter Interest Targeting? I’m a B2B marketer, so I’d be curious to see how an A/B test performs to deterimine which targeting solution works best for my business. But, in order for A/B tests to be successful, the Promoted content must be running at the same time to take into consideration seasonality, time of day, etc.  Based on the Twitter announcement, it is unclear whether you can participate a Promoted campaign in both Interest Targeting options simultaneously.


Added Bonus:

Here’s one of the more interesting things that Twitter snuck into their announcement.  They’ve lowered the minimum bid to 1 cent for all auctions and are rewarding great content over higher bids.

This concept is very similar to Google AdWords’ Quality Score.  Although the elements factored into Quality Score remain a mystery, we do know that click-through rate is heavily weighted.  Similarly, Twitter discreetly mentioned that they have a similar algorithm that will determine whether your impression share based on your content.  This implicitly means your engagement rate plays a role into how often your campaign will be Promoted.  What this means for you:

Obviously, you can always bid higher per engagement.  But why pay so much if you don’t have to? Instead, optimize your Promoted Tweets by targeting semantically related categories to spark engagements.  The more relevant the content is to the user, the more likely the user will engage. And, you definitely want engagements, because without engagements, you won’t get impressions or you’ll have to bid higher.  And do you really want to pay more or miss out on impression share?  Didn’t think so.


Check back soon for Part 2 of our Twitter Interest Targeting Guide for Advertisers, where we’ll show a step-by-step how to implement this new feature with your marketing campaign.


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