Twitter has 310 million active monthly users. If it was a country, it would have the fourth largest population on the planet. There is a huge and diverse audience which can be reached by advertising on the platform. So why is there still a feeling among many digital marketers that Twitter Ads aren’t really worth bothering about?

Breaking it down

We decided to take a look at six key aspects of advertising on Twitter to settle such claims and reach some conclusions about how much value it can add to digital marketing campaigns.

Twitter Stats

Flexibility to fit your objectives

Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve with Twitter advertising, there are different types of ads you can run. Here’s an overview of the options:

  • Website clicks campaigns: Designed to generate additional traffic to your website, these will most commonly take the form of ‘Website Cards’ with an image, a strong call to action and a link to your website.
  • Followers campaigns: If you’re looking to build an audience then follower based campaigns are the natural choice. This means your account will be promoted as a suggestion of ‘who to follow’. It’s good for fresh accounts, but the CPA for new followers can be high. Twitter Ads on Mobile
  • Engagement campaigns: Want to create a buzz and get people sharing your content? Promote your tweet so it reaches more people. Promoted Tweets appear in timelines, on profile pages, and on Tweet detail pages.
  • Mobile App promotion: If you want to boost downloads of your App, the mobile audience on Twitter can be priceless. Research Now Mobile App research in 2015 claimed that Twitter users will use 24% more apps in a day than the average smartphone owner.
  • Lead generation cards: These cards give users the option to provide you their name and email address within Twitter in exchange for a discount, download, or to sign up for your email newsletter.

This range of options means you can be strategic in what you want to achieve with your campaign and pick the best way to approach it. According to the most recent stats, the majority of Twitter Ads are Promoted Tweets (88%) – so there is scope to stand out from the crowd by exploring alternatives.

Targeting

A big plus for Twitter Ads is the flexibility they provide in terms of targeting your audience. The factors you can use to target users include location, gender, language, devices and platforms, keyword targeting, interests, followers, installed apps, and more. The combination of these different options means you can get granular to reach the audience most likely to engage. These different targeting factors are almost on a par with Facebook when it comes to finding the right audience, but lacks the valuable option of targeting by age.

Example of targeting in action: A menswear store in Glasgow wants to use Twitter to promote their new app, which is only available on iOS. Those outside Glasgow who don’t have an iOS device will not be interested, so targeting them would be a waste of budget. Twitter targeting means they can promote specifically to males within a 30 mile radius of Glasgow who are browsing Twitter using an iOS device. They could also choose to refine that further by targeting users with certain interests that match their target audience.

Pricing

Some have been scared off Twitter Ads by stories about Promoted Trends costing $200,000 for 24 hours, but not all of the options are quite so budget-busting. When it comes to pricing, it will depend on what your objective is and the type of campaign you’ve chosen.

As with any platform, the value is generally proportional to how smartly you can utilise the tools at your disposal. Working to refine your targeting can lead to finding good value in terms of engagement and lead generation.

In our experience, the cost for new followers can be disproportionately high. However, driving specific actions like clicks and collecting leads can be much more affordable. It generally takes more work to get costs down, and it still is likely to cost more than Facebook, but if Twitter is where your audience are to be found then it’s certainly worth that extra work.

Twitter Advertising Stats Example

CTR & Engagement

Engagement levels are not the easiest metric to accurately gauge for Twitter Ads. There is a temptation to see likes and retweets as a solid indicator, but it’s often the case that users or bots share content which they have not actually read. This may be superficially positive when it comes to engagement and reach statistics, but those ‘prospects’ are unlikely to convert.

In most cases, click through rates are a better indication of effectiveness, and studies have shown that Twitter Ads have higher average click-through rates than other ad channels. Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1 to 3 percent, which is much higher than the average for traditional banner ads. The conversions from these clicks are not always as strong, but this can be caused by page factors such as relevance, design, or copy. Twitter Barista Bar Example

Even where we cannot be entirely sure of impact, Twitter Ads can be useful for brand awareness. Even if people are not engaging you are still getting your name in front of people who, if you are targeting accurately, could be likely to purchase in the future. Some research has attributed offline boosts to promoted tweets with an offline sales boost of 29% in one case.

Using videos can also help to boost engagement; testing from Twitter and Nielsen found that people watching brand videos on Twitter had purchase intent lift 28% higher than those who saw the same video ad as a pre- or mid-roll during a 22 minute programme.  People watching branded content on Twitter were also more likely to stay engaged with a video for more than 30 seconds.

Reach

Compared to Facebook the reach of Twitter Ads is weaker, but if you know your target audience and have a strong message then 310 million active users on Twitter is still a large audience to explore.

Embed Twitter Audience Platform - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRUGxipk_jk

The potential reach of Twitter is considerably boosted by MoPub; a mobile ad exchange that Twitter bought in 2013. Through the Twitter Audience Portal your ads can now appear across many additional mobile apps, not just Twitter – raising the potential reach to around 800 million unique users. Research conducted by Media Science on behalf of Twitter found that users spend 123% more time interacting with ads on the Twitter Audience Portal than with traditional mobile interstitial ads. The report also claims that these ads brought an 11% increase in positive sentiment about a brand and cost per engagement fell by 30%.

Tracking and analytics options

A crucial aspect of any ad campaign is being able to track effectiveness, allowing you to refine your approach and get the best possible ROI. Twitter offers a strong suite of inbuilt analytics that allow even the most inexperienced of advertisers to understand how their ads are performing and develop a better overview of their audience. Twitter Audience Analytics

Twitter Analytics provides an overview of the Top 10 interests of your followers, who else they follow, and a breakdown of their location. You can then measure your tweets’ success using a number of metrics - most importantly reach and engagement. When you login to the Analytics section of Twitter you see a handy overview of your performance in key areas over the last 28 days. You can then drill down further to see how individual tweets have performed.

Conclusion

So, is it worth it? Ultimately, it depends on your target audience and what you want to achieve. It’s clear that there is value to be found in Twitter Ads, particularly for reaching mobile users. As always it is important to understand your audience and where they can be found online – if they are active on Twitter and you have an accurate persona then it’s certainly worth some experimentation.

Perhaps more so than other platforms, Twitter requires you to keep a close eye on budgets and analytics – continually tweaking and trying the different formats to get the best response and reduce your CPA.  It is not the most cost-effective option, struggling to compete with Facebook on this count, but if you have a well-defined audience target and a strong value offer then it can expose your brand to a wider audience.  We recommend running some small-budget Twitter ad trials as part of any digital campaign, increasing spend where you see positive results and partnering it with other platforms to develop a well-rounded multi-channel approach.