In the decade since then, Twitter has quickly become a social networking giant, with 26% of its over 200 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) spending more time looking at Twitter ads than with other leading social media advertising platforms.
It can be overwhelming for an advertiser, a brand, or an agency to decide which social media platform they should leverage to improve their paid marketing efforts. Popularity doesn't always equate to optimum results, and Twitter is no exception. This article is meant to help you navigate Twitter advertising, its pros and cons, and provide useful information to know before deciding whether it is the right platform for your advertising needs.
What is Twitter Advertising?
Twitter advertising is a social media advertising model used to promote a brand, product, or service on Twitter. Advertisers can target users based on different campaign objectives:
- Awareness: used to create/increase awareness.
- Consideration: used to get people to watch your video, install your app, drive traffic to your website, grow your followers base, or simply spark a conversation with your promoted tweet.
- Conversion: used to get people to take certain actions in your app.
Typically, users interact with ads in three forms: promoted tweets, promoted accounts, or promoted trends. But the variations in each allow advertisers to get quite creative with their messaging. With its video ad formats, for instance, you can decide to advertise your video as an in-stream video ad, allowing Twitter to run your video ad within another video content.
There are also other ad types, including website cards — which include conversation, tweet to unlock, and direct message cards. Promoted tweets can be a gif, an image, an account, or even a poll. Many features are available, from branded emojis to trend spotlights. This, coupled with the variety of ways you can target your audience — by interests, topics, follower look-alikes, etc. — is why Twitter advertising is a powerful marketing tool.
Advantages of Advertising on Twitter
Twitter is hardly the default ad platform for brands looking to invest in paid ads for the first time, with many opting for Facebook and Google Ads. This presents an excellent opportunity for brands and agencies to get started with Twitter advertising without having to compete for audiences on other large ad platforms.
Twitter Ads Manager is intuitive to navigate, even for non-technical users, allowing you to create campaigns, monitor ad performance, and connect with analytics vendors in a way that feels natural. While the interface may seem somewhat sterile, lacking advanced features that would allow marketers to do so much at a time, the fact remains that Twitter ads are much easier to create and run compared to many other social platforms.
Niche targeting functionality
While Facebook and Google Ads target users based on interests and broad factors, Twitter uses the real-time nature of the conversations taking place on the platform to extend its targeting. Thus, when you run ads on Twitter, you have the additional option to target @example_username look-alike audiences, people who tweet about or engage in conversations around certain movies & TV shows, tens of thousands of topics, offline and online events, etc.
High potential for virality
Although Twitter indeed has an overall smaller user base compared to Facebook or Google, its high potential for virality is undeniable. Retweeting forms the backbone of the user-to-user conversation on Twitter, and it can often have the effect of converting users who might not otherwise click through to your product.
Twitter has a unique set of demographics. Most of its users are 25 to 34 years old, with about 42% having a college degree or higher. They also tend to be heavy users of smartphones and are usually up to date with the latest technological, economic, political, environmental, and similar trends. This makes them more likely to recognize and eagerly adopt innovative solutions relevant to their professional and personal lives.
Disadvantages of Advertising on Twitter
Customer support issues
"Twitter's not so good either," laments Dan Wardrope, comparing the platform's customer support with that of Facebook Ads. "It's hard to get support and help within your campaigns and get a Twitter [ad] up and things like that." This outcry seems to echo throughout the circle of advertisers using the platform to run ad campaigns. For many, their complaints were met with a one-line response that didn't even remotely address the issue.
Twitter ads are more expensive than Instagram and Facebook ads. Also, if you're not vigilant, your daily ad budget can easily be spent in a few minutes irrespective of whether you selected standard or accelerated delivery.
Twitter ads go through an approval window that takes anything from 48 hours to a couple of days — up to two weeks for some advertisers. Twitter says that it uses this window to review ad placements based on "how an account uses Twitter, its profile, its content, and targeting included in any active or draft advertising campaigns."
Additionally, the platform assigns ad scores for advertisers, which are similar to Google Ads' quality score — or Facebook's relevance score — in that they measure how likely target users are to engage with an ad. Campaign tweets with higher ad scores are then served more often and at a lower cost.
Twitter might have sound reasons to hide the ad score metric and have ads pass through the approval window. These avoidable hiccups, however, ruin the user experience for advertisers who are not used to the platform's peculiar moderation practices.
The recent Elon Musk saga sheds light on the discussion about the prevalence of spam bots on the platform. Many advertisers end up paying to reach hundreds of thousands of bots masquerading as real users, thus diluting the effectiveness of a brand's campaign in particular, and its marketing operation in general.
Across all advertising platforms — social, web, and otherwise — bots remain a challenging problem, but the issue is even more pronounced on Twitter.
Are Twitter Ads still worth it in 2022?
Well… "It's true – Twitter has its problems, but in certain cases and contexts, it truly is the best ad platform you'll find – though ultimately it will depend on what you hope to accomplish," said Larry Kim in 2016. Today, the answer remains the same. In certain cases, Twitter Ads are worth the investment. While Twitter isn't the most cost-effective medium for advertising, it is a powerful tool for brand awareness and traction. Despite its limitations, the platform is still capable of bringing about momentous cultural shifts in mainstream advertising.
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