Twitter Ads Get DVR-Like Buying Platform

TBG Digital enables TV show targeting

Facts first. Twitter owns the social TV market, advertisers want to run their second-screen ads on Twitter and Twitter's recently introduced ad API will better enable that. Also, ad API partner TBG Digital has built an ad-buying platform that exploits a new Twitter tool that lets brands bid to run ads on Twitter as if they were programming a DVR to record shows.

TBG Digital's Calendar Live presents buyers with a programming grid akin to a TV guide that lists the 35 or so channels' shows by air dates and times. Advertisers can then select the shows they'd like run Promoted Tweets against, including the time zone. So, a brand like Nestlé would be able to pick out cooking shows or Pep Boys could select NASCAR races. Advertisers also could choose to run Promoted Tweets during TV shows that they’re advertising on or during programs they can't afford to buy ads on.

After making the programming choices, advertisers can create the tweet they'd like to advertise and append other targeting criteria like the demographic or interest criteria of users they'd like to reach. They also can specify any trends they'd like to capitalize on.

"If you run tweets around live events or TV shows, you get better engagement than if they're just generic tweets [running] all the time. It’s helping advertisers think about Twitter in real time as a second screen," said TBG Digital CEO Simon Mansell. TBG Digital found that Promoted Tweets around live events see an 18 percent higher engagement rate than standard Promoted Tweets.

To take advantage of real-time a la Oreo during the Super Bowl, Calendar Live includes a trends module that advertisers can use to specify popular topics to target against like #blackout. They can check off trends ahead of time, but the tool is designed to be used while a show is airing because it pulls in real-time trending topics. “During the Super Bowl, the first blackout ad took four minutes to go live. If they had our system then, they’d see that #blackout was trending and automatically add it to the trend targeting,” Mansell said.

Beyond giving advertisers a new way to target Twitter users with show-specific targeting, Calendar Live also takes advantage of TV shows airing when Twitter is more amenable to advertising. “There’s more supply around events and TV shows, which means the price you can pay is lower because there’s more volume there,” Mansell said before noting that Twitter will still pull an ad if they see it’s not performing well.

One potential side effect from the tool could be that advertisers will only run ads when certain TV shows air. For example, Coca-Cola could determine to only buy Promoted Tweets during American Idol instead of interspersing them throughout the day. Mansell acknowledged the possibility, saying Calendar Live is more for targeting people in their downtime during evenings when they’re watching TV. However, he said Calendar Live is just the first of other apps TBG Digital is developing that are built on the Twitter ad API. “There are probably some other apps or use case we’ll launch that are more around people in daytime,” he said.