Insights | Insights

Twitter Steps Up with More Targeting Capabilities

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Michael Brown

June 20, 2016
Twitter Targeting

Twitter is full steam ahead post-IPO with its announcement of a host of new targeting and reporting features that are sure to delight customers as well as shareholders. Among the new features are the ability to target users by operating system, device, and wi-fi connectivity (i.e. are they using data on the go or using wi-fi in a Starbucks?), along with reporting analytics to better enable advertisers to yield ROI from these data points. These features bolster Twitter’s existing base of targeting metrics focused on geography, keyword, and recently visited sites, making Twitter much more competitive in the mobile ad game.

As a mobile-first product (76% of people access Twitter via mobile), geo-targeting capabilities give Twitter the potential to better influence real-time purchase intent over other exchanges or advertising platforms. The addition of wi-fi, provides an even better metric of not only where you are, but how long you plan to be there. Predicting consumer behavior is tricky, but understanding whether a user is on wi-fi or not can help marketers improve the relevancy of their geo-targeting. This can also improve the efficacy of discounts offered on the platform, by tying users to a highly targeted wi-fi environment at the location, rather than posting brand-dilutive coupons across an entire zip code.

Service providers such as ComScore offer robust information on demographic pools across operating systems and devices that marketers already use for campaign targeting. For example, data shows iPhone 5S users tend to be higher earning, early-adopters. This means, based on what offer is being promoted, marketers may be more likely to push promotions to iPhone 5S users rather than other older operating systems. With Twitter’s new reporting capabilities, they may be able to provide an additional layer of understanding as to how ads perform across different types of consumers, so marketers can refine their targeting strategies even further.

I’ve long been a fan of companies capable of improving Twitter’s ad targeting capabilities and these latest features provide more fuel for those companies to work with. However, for these features to be truly relevant, Twitter needs to maintain an open environment that attracts developers to generate the best accuracy and relevancy of its ads. At the end of the day, anything a platform can do to improve the accuracy and relevancy of its ad targeting is a win for the platform, its marketers, and the users. Failing to realize the network effects associated with an open development environment would seem to be a complete about-face from the company’s network-driven consumer roots.

While the jury is still out on Twitter’s long term post-IPO success, this news seems like a clear signal from management that the company remains fixated on building a progressively better platform for its advertisers and users, rather than resting on the laurels of its IPO proceeds.