Twitter’s New Ad Unit Allows Brands to Take Over the Explore Tab

Promoted Trend Spotlight supports 6-second videos, GIFs and static images

Twitter’s newest takeover ad product gives brands access to premium real estate in the form of the social network’s Explore tab.

The company blogged about Explore Monday: “Twitter’s collection of trending topics and hashtags is where people go to see what’s happening, making it a prime location for advertisers to connect with the conversation and people.”

Promoted Trend Spotlight is generally available in Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. as of Monday, with plans to expand it into Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain and Thailand.

The ad unit supports six-second videos, GIFs and static images, and it runs edge to edge on mobile devices.


The Media Kitchen group business director Brooke Reno had a mixed reaction to the social network’s new ad offering.

“Twitter continues to innovate and take advantage of what makes it unique—real-time conversation and capturing what’s happening right now in the world,” Reno said. “This product seems to lean into that, which makes sense. However, I worry that adding more and more ad placements to an increasingly cluttered environment will annoy users and negatively impact a brand’s effectiveness.”

Twitter seemed to account for fears of over-saturation, saying that branded content via Promoted Trend Spotlight will only appear for each user’s first two visits of the day. Brands have the option of switching out creative throughout the day if they wish to sequence their messaging.

Following a person’s two visits, the Spotlight placement will revert to Twitter’s standard editorial content, and the ad will receive normal Promoted Trend placement, meaning that it will occupy the first or second slot in the Trends for you section of the Explore tab or users’ timelines.

Twitter cited an eye-tracking study from global behavioral research company EyeSee, which found that people spent 26% more time looking at Promoted Trend Spotlight ad units than at Promoted Trend units, leading to a 113% jump in ad recall, an 18% gain in brand consideration and an increase of 67% in likelihood of using the brand’s products or services in the future. The social network added that its internal data revealed that people were three times more likely to click on a Promoted Trend Spotlight ad than on a Promoted Trend unit.

Lego Agency, the in-house creative agency for Lego, was one of the brands involved in early testing of the new ad unit. Ambreena Budaly, Lego’s director of social media channel strategy, was quoted in Twitter’s blog post: “When we wanted to launch our first brand campaign in years, we turned to Twitter’s Promoted Trends and Promoted Trend Spotlight. With Spotlight, we were able to pair our creative video asset with a high-impact placement that helped us drive awareness, generate tens of thousands of mentions and inspire new conversations around our brand and the campaign.”