How Twitter more than doubled its advertising audience

Twitter has more than doubled its audience for advertisers with its mobile ad platform, which targets users on outside apps, and brands are claiming their Promoted Tweets are firing more widely and accurately.

Today, Twitter introduced new tools to target ads to its users and so-called “lookalikes” (non-Twitter users who have similar interests to those on Twitter) on outside apps, reaching up to 700 million consumers, more than double its own audience of about 310 million. The announcement comes as Twitter tries to prove its ad business can be profitable and compete with Facebook, which has almost 1.5 billion users, not including Instagram.

Twitter serves ads to apps like The Voice and Viber through MoPub. It now offers more formats like autoplay videos and better targeting opportunities to reach the right consumers, even if they’re not Twitter users.

Macy’s, Samsung and speaker-maker JBL were among the first to try Twitter’s mobile ad platform upgrades, and they doubled the reach of campaigns, according to Twitter.

“We’re just doing what we normally do on Twitter, but there’s now a way to reach so many more people,” said Dave Spinato, who heads JBL’s Twitter advertising as global director of digital marketing and social media at HARMAN.

JBL: Amplified
JBL: Amplified

JBL said it reached 70 percent more consumers than it typically reaches with Promoted Tweets on Twitter alone. JBL is a longtime Twitter advertiser, and it sponsors NBA videos on the messaging site, as well.

Spinato said targeted users clicked on the ads at a rate of 8 percent, 15 times the industry average on Twitter. The ability to target ads based on lookalikes helped with the high engagement, he said.

The audio brand focused on two target audiences while marketing around the NBA All-Star Game and the Coachella music festival.

“For Coachella, we targeted event-goers and music lovers, and for the NBA we targeted avid fans,” Spinato said. “It’s not really about the quantity of people reached; it’s about the quality of targeting.”

This round of advertising was more about building brand awareness, Spinato said, but he expects Twitter will eventually include a buy button for these types of campaigns.

Sean Black, head of media services at SapientNitro, said that Twitter’s lookalike targeting is the key to reaching more consumers, and most platforms are finding success with the model.

“Twitter will continue to grow that 700 million number daily,” he said.

The lookalike model of advertising is becoming more sophisticated as platforms like Twitter and Facebook get better at tracking online behavior and delivering ads based on the habits of users they know directly, Black said.

Macy’s said it saw ad engagement of almost 8 percent during its campaign, and Samsung said views of its video ads were 365 percent higher through the Twitter Audience Platform.

Twitter recently launched autoplay video ads on its own site, and the format is now available through the audience platform. Also, just like on Twitter itself, the company says it only charges when the video is 100 percent in view of the screen.

“We saw that brand advertisers who ran campaigns across both Twitter and the Twitter Audience Platform can double their reach and lowered [costs] by as much as 30 percent,” Twitter said in today’s announcement.