Twitter Brings Interest Targeting to Promoted Tweets, Accounts

Brands can aim ads at users in 350-plus categories

Twitter’s pitch to advertisers just got a whole lot more interesting. Marketers can now target Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts based on users’ interests. For example, a dog food brand can run a Promoted Tweet aimed at users who post about their pet or follow other canine-crazy accounts. 

Twitter’s head of product marketing Guy Yalif said the company has compiled more than 350 interest categories—with 25 broad categories like movies that break down into more specific interests like comedy or horror—through the public signals its more than 140 million monthly active users send out every day, such as who they follow and what they tweet, to create audience segments brands can now target.

But marketers can get even more specific than interest category targeting by targeting based on usernames. Username targeting doesn’t mean an ad would be shown to that Twitter account’s followers per se, but Twitter would look at the interests of the account’s followers and promote the tweet or account to users with similar interests. An action movie may fancy itself also a comedy; instead of only targeting the action and adventure and comedy movie categories, they could target @QTarantinoNews. Twitter would then sift the interests of that Quentin Tarantino-devoted account’s followers to create lookalike audiences to whom to promote the tweet or account. Advertisers are limited to targeting up to 100 usernames. Yalif said Twitter has no plans to enable hashtag targeting but that it would be “philosophically in line” with the new targeting capabilities.

Twitter has been testing the product in beta with “tens” of partners and begins rolling it out officially today. Also today Twitter has lowered the minimum bid requirement in its auctions from $0.50 to a penny. Yalif said that move is a way to reward brands whose content receives higher quality scores because users engage with their posts more with the ability to more cheaply promote that content to nonfollowers.

These changes—in tandem with last month's removal of the followers-first requirement for Promoted Tweets—could be seen to mean that the number of Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts presented to a user will skyrocket. Nope. Yalif said that Twitter has “very conservative” frequency caps in place limiting how many Promoted Tweets a user can see in their time line every day and prevents brands from running the same Promoted Tweet to the same user more than once on desktop or separately on mobile.