Media Planning & Buying Social Media

Twitter Bolsters Ad Product with a Nod to SEM

December 17, 2012

Last week, Twitter announced expanded search options for advertisers – and for marketers who are well-versed in standard search engine marketing practices, they will seem quite familiar.

When utilizing Promoted Tweets in search, brands can now select from three different match type options: broad match, phrase match and basic keyword match. There’s also a new negative keyword targeting option, so marketers will be able to safeguard their campaigns from off-brand or irrelevant content.

Twitter first unveiled interest targeting back in September, giving marketers the ability to target users who share interests with the brand’s current followers. Although these updates are the standard across most search engine marketing platforms, they mark an important step forward for Twitter’s search advertising platform.

For one, the updates will likely lead to increased efficiencies for advertisers bidding on phrase and exact match compared to if they were using the standard keyword match option. If Twitter’s algorithm is at all similar to Google’s, then the narrower the match type, the higher the engagement rate will be – meaning lower CPEs. Advertisers that can effectively leverage the new range of match types will be able to edge out competitors on key terms if those competitors aren’t exploring the new options yet.

The addition of negative keywords should also improve engagement rates by helping to ensure that the Promoted Tweets are served in response to relevant queries. These additional controls are mechanisms to re-assure advertisers that they can be as strategic about their search spend on Twitter as they are with their current SEM efforts across the engines.

Of course, Twitter search and SEM are two very different animals. One of the key differences is that Twitter search queries often unearth very unfiltered and non-PC content – so there is a strong possibility that Promoted Tweets could serve in response to an off-brand query and appear alongside an off-brand conversation. This is less of an issue within standard search marketing, so the negative match option addresses a challenge that is somewhat unique to the Twitter platform.

Other enhancements in this round of updates include:
Promoted Tweet matching, which can automatically match sponsored tweets with relevant and related trending topics. The example Twitter gives is that of a baby clothing retailer, whose ads would show in the trending search for a celebrity pregnancy announcement.
A bulk import tool has also been introduced, which can read exported keyword lists from other search advertising platforms. This will be an important resource for advertisers looking to seamlessly translate their campaigns from platforms like Google or Bing over to Twitter.

As Twitter’s search ad product evolves – and as people continue to use the platform for real-time search – marketers with a sound understanding of search marketing best practices will be better-equipped to leverage the new features in their campaigns.