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Twitter Launches Tailored Audiences Retargeting Product

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Twitter has just announced the launch of Tailored Audiences, their retargeting advertising product. The social network will work alongside partner companies to offer advertisers access to targeting data from sources external to Twitter.

Marketers will be able to target Twitter users based on more than just their location, gender, or other information available through the Twitter platform; they'll have insights from search engines, site visits, CRM data and more.

In the announcement, Twitter said, "After testing this for several months, today we are announcing the global availability of tailored audiences-a new way for advertisers to define your own groups of existing and potential customers, and connect with them on Twitter with relevant messages."

Retargeting on Social Networks

Retargeting allows advertisers deeper insight into consumers' behavior, enabling more specific targeting and messaging. It's a way for advertisers to get back in front of people who have expressed some interest in the brand or a related topic.

Advertisers have had access to retargeting through Google's DoubleClick, Facebook and other networks. However, Twitter's social offering is interesting, given the seamless placement of Promoted Tweets in the tweet stream.

In addition, most activity on Twitter happens in the stream, whereas Facebook has struggled to get users on the newsfeed to view in-line ads. Frequency can be an issue in newsfeed ads, where users may spend just 5 percent of their Facebook time.

The key is in understanding the level and type of intent of the user, a task made far easier with the data available through external sources.

Twitter Began Testing Retargeting in July

The move is not completely unexpected, as Twitter announced they would begin experimenting with retargeting in July 2013. At that time, senior director of product – revenue Kevin Weil wrote, “Users won't see more ads on Twitter, but they may see better ones.”

He explained how it would work: “To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the shop may share with us a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash) or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID). We can then match that information to accounts in order to show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine's Day deal.”

Tailored Audiences takes Twitter beyond scrambled, browser-related information to the type of targeting used by Facebook Ad Exchange. However, they have a lot of catching up to do, especially given Facebook's in with Google's DoubleClick.

Twitter shared early results in the blog post announcement:

"We have seen impressive results from those advertisers in our beta test using the tailored audiences program over several months' time. Inbound marketing software platform HubSpot was an early beta tester of tailored audiences. By reaching recent visitors to their web properties with Promoted Tweets, Hubspot saw a lift in engagement rates of 45 percent with tailored audience campaigns over their historical averages. Krossover, a technology company that analyzes game video for sports coaches, used tailored audiences to drive a 74 percent decrease in cost per customer acquisition (CPA)."

Advertising Partners Key to Retargeting Data

Twitter was in talks with both Google and Microsoft in 2009 about data sharing, though the microblogging site's relationship with Google has grown far more contentious since. Back in 2010, the two were friends with benefits, but lately it hasn't been so. By late 2011, they'd a falling out and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo gave the first hint that their deal with Google was in peril (remember, this was after Google+ -- a social competitor – launched). Not long after, the agreement that gave Google access to the Twitter firehose ended.

Even then, there was speculation that Twitter blocked the deal in order to keep searches on their site, to maximize their advertising opportunities. Fast forward to today and Twitter clearly sees the value in working with partners, who already have access to more data than they could ever gather on their own site, rather than relying solely on internal user data.

Chango is one of Twitter's Tailored Audience partners; the firm has been involved in FBX since early days, as well. CRO and co-founder Dax Hamman explains to SEW the benefit for advertisers: "Tailored audiences is suitable for retargeting your existing site visitors with something richer than a display ad, and for finding new individuals based on their intent."

As to how Twitter's Tailored Audiences differ from FBX -- and why marketers would consider one or both offerings as part of their marketing plan -- Hamman tells us, "Facebook exchange and tailored audiences are similar in that they are both a way to talk to individuals in those channels using the marketer's own data. FBX is viewed typically more passively by consumers, whereas a Promoted Tweet is more proactive engagement."

Other partners are: Adara, AdRoll, BlueKai, DataXu, Dstillery, Lotame, Quantcast, ValueClick, and [x+1].

"We are excited to be selected as one of Twitter's launch partners, and thrilled to be working with them to help shape the future of their ad platform," Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said in a prepared statement. "Combining Twitter's reach and Dstillery's sophisticated targeting technology produces astounding results for advertisers' campaigns."

Twitter has moved fast to build and prove revenue since their IPO, most recently adding both custom timelines and enhanced mobile targeting in November.

Image credit: Christopher Penler/Shutterstock.com


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