Twitter can do a better job serving marketers by improving its ad platform, analytics tools, location services, and more.
Jon Elvekrog, CEO of the social ad and marketing consultancy 140 Proof, writes on Ad Age that Twitter will need to beef up its usefulness to marketers if it's going to generate the $400 million of ad revenue that eMarketer is forecasting by 2013.
Though the initial version of Elvekrog's article was rife with errors -- the current version has a substantial corrections paragraph at the end to prove it -- it still makes good points.
According to Elvekrog, Twitter's recent redesign and new brand pages need to improve in these areas:
- Relevant ad matching. Brands only have the option of targeting their followers or users with what Twitter calls "similar interests." It needs to allow marketers to go beyond those targets.
- Creative options. Advertisers can put auto-play video on Twitter's new brand pages, but they can't put video in users' timelines. Also, in-stream ad units are limited to what the brand has already tweeted from the corporate feed. There's no option to change creative content on the fly or to serve different content to different users, which makes A/B testing impossible.
- Delivering volume. Twitter has finally started inserting ads -- in the form of sponsored hashtags -- into its own branded smartphone apps. But they're not available on many other popular clients.
- Insightful reports on which marketers can take action. Twitter doesn't support standard key performance indicators such as clickthrough rates. It claims its own metrics, which include clicks, favorites, replies, and retweets, are better. Marketers can't use analytics tools such as third-party impression tracking. Twitter campaigns can't plug in to standard reporting dashboards, "forcing marketers to look at Twitter as a separate entity, rather than a piece of the larger digital campaign," Elvekrog says.
Matt McGee at MarketingLand argues that Twitter should provide basic analytics tools for all users. He also says Twitter ought to let users tie business profiles to its "almost forgotten Twitter Places product," which was launched 18 months ago and lets users tie tweets to physical locations, including businesses. Brands would be able to show all tweets and photos from and near a location, with a possible link to driving directions. These changes would be particularly appealing to businesses that experience a great deal of traffic and activity, such as restaurants, theaters, malls, and shops.
I don't agree with all the recommendations in these articles. For example, Elvekrog's claim that Twitter needs better ad matching runs counter to Twitter's own ad strategy, which is to extend Google's precedent for contextual advertising. It may well be that Twitter is wrong in its approach, but advising it to broaden its focus is akin to advising McDonald's to adopt an all-vegetarian menu. It's not a simple tuneup, but a fundamental change.
But the two articles are good launching points for ideas. What do you think Twitter needs to do to become a better marketing tool?
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site
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