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Twitter’s Interest Targeting Product Aims At Larger Audience

Twitter continues to try to make money from its grand social media experiment. That’s not really news is it?

What is news is how they keep trying to do this. Whether it’s becoming more insular in their approach to how and where you get your tweets or clamping down on the developer community, the social media big boy is changing a lot these days.

The latest update to Twitter’s advertising model is called Interest Targeting. TheTwitter Advertising blog explains it like so.

….we’re taking an important next step by allowing you to target your Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts campaigns to a set of interests that you explicitly choose. By targeting people’s topical interests, you will be able to connect with a greater number of users and deliver tailored messages to people who are more likely to engage with your Tweets. When people discover offers and messages about the things they care about on Twitter, it’s good for both marketers and users.

The fact that these targets are not just amongst your followers only is the larger part of this story. These promoted tweets can now reach all of the 140 million Twitter users and not just those following your brand. That opens up considerable new territory to advertisers (if only bots could respond and buy something then this would be a real winner!).

The blog continues

We have 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.

Well of course they are excited. This means more revenue potential. If there has been a consistent question surrounding Twitter over the years it has been their plan to capitalize monetarily on their popular platform. At times this has been easier said than done. Along those lines though Twitter has even changed how their auction system works for these ads.

We are also lowering the minimum bid to one cent for all of our 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.

Maybe the most telling part of the approach is the almost apologetic tone of one of the last lines which says

We’ve always taken a thoughtful approach to monetization, and early results show interest targeting creates a better experience for marketers and users.

When I read between the lines on this one I wonder if the author, Kevin Weil, should run for office. What he is really saying with his ‘thoughtful approach to monetization’ line is that “We have been trying for years to figure out how to make some real money with all of this information and we are still trying to figure out exactly what we have so please be patient and give us more time to get this thing right before something else comes along to replace us.”

Over the top? Maybe but it’s hard to argue that the true monetization of Twitter has been a long time coming and I am not so convinced that the delay in this critical business element has as much to do about being thoughtful as it does about being perplexed at just how you make the big money (like Google and Facebook) on tweets.

Your thoughts?