How Twitter is striving not to be forgotten in the digital advertising game

When you speak of digital advertising, often enough the two platforms that come to mind are Google and Facebook. According to Salesforce’s forecast in a recent report, over 60% of digital advertising spend will go to Google Search, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram in 2020. This is universal across all Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe. Other platforms, including Twitter, only collectively account for 11% of planned spend across the regions.

However, this has not deterred Twitter from strengthening its position and the company is currently in its 13th quarter of consecutive profitability and growth, said Sarah Personette, vice president of Twitter global client solutions, in an interview with Marketing. Known for short-form updates, the platform has been known to generate timely conversations, from live tweets to snappy replies (and sometimes trolls) culminating in long threads – and that, is precisely how the platform intends to differentiate itself.

According to Personette, today, over 80% of the marketing budget invested on Twitter globally are focused on launches. Besides working closely with publishers to provide support and drive conversations before, during and after a launch, Twitter has also been building playbooks and product solutions to support various business objectives. One of Twitter’s advertising offerings is Promoted Trends, where time, context, and event-sensitive trends promoted by advertisers are placed at the top of the Trending Topics list and within users’ timelines.

Personette explained: “It can be launch of a creative new message, a new product, or a new feature, but launch is a particularly important part of your marketing strategy.

If you don’t succeed during that launch period, more often than not the business or brand is not going to succeed.

According to brand effect studies by Twitter in 2017, Twitter has helped brands that have partnered the platform for new launches sustain awareness post-event by an additional 33%. Findings also show that its audience influences two-thirds of purchases for family and friends, and about half of Twitter users would prefer to hear from brands and converse with them.

“The fact that users are so leaned in, and they are so receptive to the brand message because of trying to understand what is happening in the world around them, it’s a highly differentiated point,” added Personette.

Sarah Personette

Key to success on social

On social media campaigns, Personette advised marketers to adopt a “look at this” instead of “look at me” attitude. By connecting to current events, brands are more culturally-relevant, and more likely to have their messages received by the audience. Therefore instead of hard-selling, brands should start or join in conversations around an interesting piece of information, article or picture.

That, is where Twitter can come in to help, according to Personette. She said,

Twitter moves at the speed of culture and at the speed of conversation.

“Every day people around the world come to Twitter to understand and find out what’s happening,” she added.

Globally last year, Twitter inked 950 partnerships with publishers and media companies. One of that is with HBO the Game of Thrones, where Twitter helped to build up a conversational calendar around the content that is going to be debuting for the premiere and the #OwnTheThrone brand campaign. The partnership saw the team bring the throne to the living rooms of celebrities who were fans, prompting lots of videos, pictures, and conversations surrounding the television series on Twitter.

Twitter also collaborated with 34 K-pop bands and over 200 artistes last year to create K-pop content available exclusively on the platform. It organised a variety of engagements such as live Q&A sessions via the #TwitterBlueroom, which have been viewed over 10 million times in 2018. To provide advertisers with an opportunity to reach out to the highly-engaged K-pop fans globally, Twitter extended its In-Stream Video Ads capabilities to K-pop content. In-Stream Videos Sponsorship was also introduced, allowing brands to insert pre-roll ads into video highlights of K-pop #TwitterBlueroom.

Besides leveraging pop culture, Personette suggested marketers to tailor creatives for specific platforms to maximise its effectiveness. Twitter for instance, is a mobile-first platform and videos should be six seconds or less. “That means putting the brand at the start so that you can capture attention quickly using captions in order to tell the story throughout the course of that six seconds. Have a call-to-action and use vibrant colours in order to break through in the feed,” she said.

Enhancing conversations

To make Twitter more conducive for conversations, the platform has recently rolled out a feature for users to subscribe to conversations. Additionally, it has been testing coloured labels to threads to make them easier to follow as well as a “ice-breaker” feature where areas of interests are pinned at the top of profiles to encourage new conversations.

Twitter, Personette added, has been at the heart of conversations around “cultural moments”, ranging from pop culture to cultural celebrations. Avengers: Endgame for example, saw more than 50 million tweets from January to April this year, making it the most tweeted movie. Five out of the top 10 markets worldwide that tweeted about #AvengersEndgame came from Asia Pacific – Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, Philippines and Japan. In April 2019, Indonesians also posted 10.5 million tweets related to Ramadan. Indonesia is the second country that tweeted the most about Ramadan after Saudi Arabia.

“Because our platform is real-time and public, supporting topics and interests have been important to us and will continue to be important to us so from a product strategy. We made it a lot easier to follow those events or follow those key topics that people might be interested in,” said Personette.

Moving forward, Twitter is expecting more growth in Asia Pacific, which is seeing rising number of millennials and internet connectivity. In terms of cultural trends, Personette pointed out that the K-pop phenomenon has been taking the region by storm, while regional events such as Formula One is big in Singapore; television shows in Thailand and Philippines, and cricket sports in India.

“Asia is an incubator for innovation for brands and businesses, but it’s also an incubator for innovation in terms of consumer behaviour. The shift to mobile – I think it first happened here. The frequency of checking your phone, how you think about messaging, how you think about shoppability… Asia really drove a lot of those first-mover advantages,” said Personette.

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