Twitter introduces ads targeting user’s interests as US politicians look to spend big

Twitter is to introduce the ability for advertisers to target users with promoted tweets based on their interests or indications of what they like.

It brings a much needed degree of flexibility and additional sophistication to what advertisers are able to do on Twitter and should make it an increasingly attractive proposition to those who have so far only dipped their toe in where Promoted products are concerned.

Some of the first big users of the new feature could be the Republican and Democratic parties as they fight it out in the run up to the November election.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has already become the first presidential candidate to ever run Twitter’s promoted trend product.

Peter Greenberger, Twitter’s Washington ad sales lead, hinted to Ad Week that political marketers may also run the pricey social ad during the Democratic National Convention next week.

Greenberger also gave an insight to how Romney’s team are using Twitter: “The Governor Mitt Romney looking over his speech on his iPad at the #RNCAnn Romney [team] was live-tweeting her speech. And they were promoting the tweets in real-time. It was a powerful way to push her message into the timelines of Twitter users around the country.”

The final night of the Republican National Convention last night proved to be a huge one on Twitter where hastags have been everywhere.

Twitter said that the total number of Tweets sent about the RNC hit four million soon after the end of Governor Romney’s speech — nearly doubling the total count before today.

New Twitter Targeting features

The new targeting features will allow advertisers to target tailored messages at people who are more likely to engage with their Promoted Tweets and consequently boost response rates.

In a blog post Twitter said there were two types of interest targeting. Firstly there is a broad range of categories allowing advertisers to target via 350 interest categories, ranging from education to home and garden to investing and football.

interest targeting on twitter

For instance a film studio promoting a new animated film about dogs could select to target animation (under Movies and Television), cartoons (under Hobbies and Interests), and dogs (under pets).

The move precise targeting is by specifying certain @​usernames that are relevant to promotion, product or event.

Called custom segments this allows advertisers to reach users with similar interests to that @​username’s followers.

For instance if you were launching a music service you might target some high profile musicians, music bloggers or venues and their followers.

Twitter said the new feature will help advertisers reach beyond their followers and users with similar interests, and target the most relevant audience for its campaign.

Kevin Weil, director of product management at Twitter said that it has been testing interest targeting with a select group of beta advertisers.

“Many have seen significantly increased audience reach; others have creatively defined custom audiences to reach a very specific set of users. Across the board, they are seeing high engagement rates because they are reaching users who are interested in their content. Given these early results, we’re excited to make interest targeting available today to all of our advertising partners,” Weil said.

In addition Twitter said it would be lowering the minimum bid to one cent for all of its auctions.

“As you know, our Promoted Products are auction-based, where winners are determined by engagement rate and bids. Great content matters: if you have engaging Promoted Tweet copy, you can win even if others bid higher. We believe the new lower minimum bid, in combination with interest targeting, will drive greater ROI for every campaign on Twitter,” Weil added.

Clint Eastwood and Tweets from the RNC 

Twitter said that Governor Romney’s speech earned the three biggest spikes in conversation of the entire convention— his biggest moment on Twitter occurring at the conclusion of his speech last night (14,289 Tweets per minute) and the second when he mentioned President Putin at about 11:09 p.m. ET (13,267 Tweets per minute).

While Romney dominated the night on Twitter, both Florida senator @marcorubio and Clint Eastwood earned the second and third biggest moments on Twitter of the entire convention, respectively. Rubio’s biggest spike was 8,937 Tweets per minute, Eastwood’s was 7,044 Tweets per minute as he made a speech while addressing an “invisible” President Barack Obama sitting in an empty chair.

“I got Mr Obama sitting here and I was gonna ask him a couple questions. Mr President, how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election? What do you say to people?”

Eastwood quickly cut the interview short: “I’m not gonna shut up. It’s my turn.”

Eastwood’s speech drew a quick response from Barack Obama’s team, which tweeted this image:

There were some other creative responses including speedy creation of @InvisibleObama Twitter account, which provided a voice for the “invisible” President.

In just 45 minutes the account had gained over 20,000 followers, was mentioned over 10,000 times on Twitter, and went on to pick up 35,000.