As it continues to develop the advertising opportunities available on its service, Twitter is now allowing brands to target their promoted tweets to followers only. Like other promoted tweets, the messages appear at the top of users’ timelines upon login, and scroll down afterwards. They can also be dismissed immediately.
The company announced the new feature in a blog post today.
“Traditionally, you could target with a set of keywords and restrict to geographies,” Kevin Weil, the product lead for Twitter’s monetization products, told me. “With this, you can target to your followers — anybody following the brand is part of that.”
Twitter says engagement on Promoted Tweets already generate 3-5% engagement, and this targeting is likely to increase that metric.
The company has lined up advertisers in a wide variety of verticals as early users of the targeting capability before they will be rolled out to other marketers. These include Best Western, HBO, Gatorade, JetBlue, Microsoft Xbox, Dell, Groupon, LivingSocial, Sephora, Starbucks and Virgin America. Non-profits included are charity:water, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Room to Read, the American Red Cross and Water.org.
Though brands already have the ability to get messages out to followers through their normal tweets, the new feature will ensure that followers see the promoted tweets even if they aren’t on Twitter.com at time that the original tweet was sent. This will be especially important for reaching users who are following a great number of people, as tweets are easily lost in the stream for such users.
If multiple advertisers are trying to target the same individual at the same time, Twitter will look at bid price and relevance to determine which Promoted Tweet will show. The company wouldn’t detail how it determines relevance, but one could speculate that signals may include who the user is following, what they tweet about, who and what they retweet, and other similar information, both real-time and over time.
As with many product roll-outs, the company is beginning with a small amount of users, so the Promoted Tweets won’t be visible to everyone immediately.
“Only people who follow one of these brands could see an ad,” said Matt Graves, in communications at Twitter. “The other thing is that we’re starting with a very small percentage of the users and slowly dialing that up, as we see how things are performing.”
The company is also trying to be very judicious with the display of ads, to ensure that users don’t see too many ads in a given amount of time. Twitter representatives wouldn’t specify details of their limits, but said they are constantly tweaking and testing.
The new targeted Promoted Tweets to followers will initially only be visible on Twitter.com, but the company expects to eventually roll it out to third-party clients, as well.
“Anyplace people experience Twitter,” said Graves, “there will be options for monetization.”