Retargeting Is on Its Way to Twitter

TechCrunch reported that Twitter is ready to do a soft launch of retargeted ads and could announce their plan as early as tomorrow.

With the use of cookies, Twitter will expand its ad platform to show ads for sites users have recently visited, products they’ve looked at, or brands they’ve searched for.

This could work well because Twitter already has a decent ad platform. Other than the occasional promoted post in the timelines of users, Twitter pushes promoted Tweets through its search bar. If a user searches for the Steelers then he might see an ad for Powerade or Nike at the top.

Social networks are starting to realize that cluttering the sides of their sites with banner ads isn’t as effective as integrating them into the content. Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest have kept their interfaces the same and differentiate between organic content and sponsored posts with dollar signs and other icons.

tumblrad123This makes brands focus on the content of their sponsored posts so they don’t stick out like sore thumbs. A successful promoted ad makes users check to see if they were already following that brand or if it was a paid post. They need to be content-based to encourage engagement rather than trying to do a hard sell.

If we have faith that Twitter developers and are doing retargeting right, their new program could create customers and brand advocates for companies. For example, if someone was doing research on local gyms, they would see an ad for LA Fitness. Instead of getting a hard sell “Discounts on new members, sign up today!” they could see content, “7 exercises to do at the gym, and 7 you can do at home.” This way the non-gym goer gets exposed to the LA Fitness brand, learns what they can start doing without leaving the house, and starts thinking that a gym membership (at LA Fitness) is a good idea.

There are usually two main concerns raised by consumers in regard to retargeted ads: they’re creepy and they’re annoying. As for the annoying factor, retargeted ads can get so automated that they become irrelevant. I was recently doing research on assisted living homes for a campaign and was flooded with ads as soon as I went on Facebook. The copy wasn’t even a relevant “Are you looking for a home for an elderly relative?” but a poorly generated “Are you ready to retire and move into an assisted living facility?” As a vibrant twenty-something, I’m not going to move into an old-folks home.

Below is an example of an effective retargeted ad from Facebook — which happens to be about retargeting. I usually spend my day alternating between learning about marketing and watching cat videos, so this combined both of my interests. Well done, Chango.com.

facebookad123On the creepy line, Internet users that aren’t used to retargeting, or don’t understand cookies, don’t like that their Internet movements are tracked and shared with other sites. TechCrunch said Twitter might be upping the ante by cross retargeting on different devices.

On the creepy line, Internet users that aren’t used to retargeting, or don’t understand cookies, don’t like that their Internet movements are tracked and shared with other sites. TechCrunch said Twitter might be upping the ante by cross retargeting on different devices. Ideally, Twitter would increase retargeting on smartphones but use the search history from desktops.

Again, this all comes down to Twitter’s developers and balancing on the creepy line. If the content and ads are valuable then users won’t mind. If they’re spammy and invasive they won’t be well received.

About the author

Amanda Dodge