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Twitter Announces Keyword Targeting in Timelines

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Today, Twitter announced its newest feature: keyword level targeting within the timeline. Prior to this announcement, marketers could utilize Twitter’s Promoted Tweet product based on interest categories, lookalike targeting and conversations. These clusters were determined by user data, but did not take advantage of the real-time nature of conversations on the platform. With keyword level targeting, marketers can now, in real-time, target promoted tweets to users based on keywords in recent tweets or tweets with which people have engaged.

Why is this important? Twitter has established itself as the go-to place for real-time updates and conversation around everything from hard hitting news and sports coverage, to snarky comments about “Fat Betty” on Mad Men.  Keyword targeting on Twitter is unlike any other social ad offering out there, in that it allows brands to capitalize on timely events and conversations the moment in which they are happening. Delivering ad opportunities around the cultural zeitgeist is something that Twitter is uniquely able to deliver in an era when being timely and relevant has never been more imperative for capturing consumer attention.

To take advantage of this new feature, marketers should keep the following things in mind:

  1. Increased relevance could drive higher engagement from current followers
    For marketers who are already using Twitter to amplify content and connect with their current community, keyword targeting will allow them a higher degree of relevancy and the ability to better customize their messaging strategy based on the nature of the conversation. For instance, a fashion brand could promote real-time content to followers who are tweeting from or about the music and arts festival, Coachella. A TV network could likewise tailor its messaging based on a TV character that one of its followers happens to be tweeting about.
  2. New approach to campaign set-up
    With additional targeting options comes the opportunity to fine tune campaign set-up and reporting. Creating more granular targeting segments will be critical for test and learn. Twitter recommends approaching campaign set-up with a paid search mindset – focusing on brand and product terms first, as well as high performers from other channels, such as paid search. There is also the option to target exact match and unordered match, which will allow marketers to take advantage of the conversational element of Twitter. We also advise marketers and their agencies to think through what they are hoping to achieve with keyword targeting as it relates to their existing Twitter strategy, and to then setup their campaigns accordingly.
  3. Marketers can reach consumers further down the funnel, but not the lower funnel (yet!)
    While keyword level targeting is more ‘precise’ than other targeting options, marketers should consider the role it will play in their overall media and/or Twitter strategy. Twitter is a platform focused on conversation and self-expression. Unlike search, consumers are not using Twitter to express a specific need that they would like met, and Twitter, to date, has not been set-up to capture that demand. Marketers should view keyword level targeting as a way to increase consideration and awareness at a specific moment when people are expressing something they care about. As the platform evolves, consumer behavior could change – at which point, marketers could start using Twitter for lower funnel initiatives.

As with any new advertising product, marketers should approach usage with a test and learn mentality. This new addition, however, signifies Twitter’s commitment to building out their ad products to allow marketers to scale at the same rate as their platform.

Cover photo via Twitter