An idea or two for Twitter advertising

I was browsing my Twitter feed for blog post ideas, as one does, and noticed a new (to me) interactive ad: with a click of a button I shared my name, email and interest with the advertiser. One click is all it takes. Twitter calls these “Lead Generation Cards” to easily allow the exchange of email and user info. Twitter also offers other types of ad objectives, including app installations, web engagement and Twitter related metrics (retweets and favorites.) There are also ads that allow you to instantly buy items that Twitter is currently testing with a limited group of advertisers but I have yet to see one in my feed.

Apply now! Instant connection between me and the brand.

Apply now! Instant connection between me and the brand.

If used sparingly and targeted wisely this is a wonderful way to connect between advertisers and customers, which led me to think what other types of engagement Twitter can offer in an ad. What kind of ads can rely on highly targeted intents and interests coupled with actions that go beyond the a click or conversion and presented natively in the stream without raising user ire?

  1. Media, music, books, games, etc: digital download offers instant gratification and similarly to the app downloads in the mobile app, these can be deep linked to artists or songs.
  2. Tickets: local events and major tours can target local fans.
  3. On-demand services: with several apps offering delivery from local restaurants, with one especially for pizza, taxi services, flowers and grocery delivery, those services can be deeply integrated into ads.

One of Facebook’s ad ideas, called Sponsored Stories, is to use friends’ recommendations to create ads. When a friend likes Coke, Facebook displays a “Bob likes Coke” ad in your feed with Bob’s face. But it turns out that the likers (Bob in my example) don’t really enjoy having their Like presented as a product endorsement. And they don’t like it being done without their knowledge or explicit consent.

Enter the “agreed endorsement” (I promise to find a more catchy name for it eventually.) Right now, when users tweet with a hashtag “created” by someone else they are, in a way, endorsing the product or event. For example, on yesterday’s broadcast of the Country Music Awards ABC plastered the hashtag #CMAawards every time an artist came on stage to present or sing. By tweeting with that hashtag users included themselves in the conversation. But isn’t that, in essence, endorsing the CMAs? After all, when users include a “common” or “commercial” hashtag, they are willingly identifying themselves with it. From there, the brand can use that tweet in a sponsored tweet ad.

But suppose that Twitter wanted to be more upfront with users (a noble cause) and let them specifically consent to their tweet being used as an ad. A “reserved” hashtag, such as #AD, could be used to denote that consent. Sort of like the #FF or #TBT hashtags, that even though they are not reserved and can be used to denote anything, their meaning is always FollowFriday and ThrowBackThursday. This could be included in brand sponsorships, like Facebook, and also in recommendations such as music. Every so often I see a tweet with a recommendation for a song or artist which I need to leave Twitter to listen to. Those kinds of recommendations can easily be made into ads.

As every ad type, it needs to be used wisely, both by advertisers and by Twitter, but it could be extremely effective. Just don’t overdo it.


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