I had the pleasure of speaking at and attending Marketing Land’s SocialPro conference on November 18-19 in Las Vegas. My personal favorite part of the conference was hearing more from Twitter directly on how to best do performance advertising on their platform. Representatives from Twitter shared insights on ways marketers are achieving the most success, as well as information on how things work under the hood at ads.twitter.

In my mind, one of the best developments for social advertisers would be for a viable, at-scale paid social option to emerge to challenge Facebook and keep costs competitive. Twitter’s definitely taking steps to get there, including giving out the following insights:

-The ads team recommends staying away from broad interest targets for performance-based marketers, because they are far from being precise and are built on loose signals. These can provide a lot of reach/scale/engagement for brand advertisers but have not proven to drive performance advertising.

-In addition to opting into similar users targeting from your tailored audiences and using keyword targeting, Twitter recommends you use username (handle) targeting, which work wells and drives effective scale.

-When you do @username targeting, you’re targeting people who LOOK like those following the username, and not the followers themselves. Knowing that, follow some examples of good @username targeting:

-Competitors, other companies marketing in the same category as you, media outlets and major industry thought leaders, and usernames corresponding to a demo target (e.g. if ‘Moms’ are a target, then you’d target mommy blogs and parenting magazines).

-Age/gender targeting are inferred; typically, Twitter will remove someone from an age/gender pool if they are outside Twitter’s ‘level of certainty’. Profile name and who people follow are typical gender and age indicators.

-One presenter suggested cross-checking gender and age in Google Analytics. An audience member offered that they had verified and it was off considerably, but still more right than wrong. These are still viable targeting options, but keep in mind that they are directional.

-Also to note – age targeting is brand new on ads.twitter after years in Beta. It will get more accurate at these inferred demos over time. (Why are these inferred? People aren’t asked gender and birthdate on Twitter profiles like they are on Facebook.)

-Behavior targeting on Twitter comes from 3rd parties like Acxiom and Datalogix (very similar to Facebook).

-Twitter noted that several advertisers are actually seeing more success with image + link ads versus Twitter cards. They recommend testing both.

Twitter functions as a ‘2nd Price Auction’ where the auction winner pays only $0.01 more per click than the second-place bidder.


In addition to the insights, Twitter’s pros dished on a couple of new developments:

-Engager retargeting is brand new and allows you to retarget people based on their engagement with your brand’s organic or promoted tweets.

-Twitter will also be moving to a universal pixel like Facebook’s in the coming months.

Here’s to optimizing those Twitter campaigns!

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Brad O'Brien
Brad joined 3Q as Director of Social after spending several years on the brand side at Provide Commerce & FTD companies. Brad has a strong background in Social, SEO, e-commerce, landing page and test optimizations, analytics, as well as production and promotion of digital content. Originally from New Jersey, Brad went to college in Virginia at James Madison University and received a degree in Marketing. He has called San Diego home for the last seven years, and also works out of San Diego. Brad enjoys surfing, being outdoors, music festivals, traveling, cooking, and spending time with his dog Duke.