Twitter to Offer Promoted Tweets, Videos Beyond Twitter

Company Extends Offering Beyond App-Install Ads

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Promoted tweet converted to an in-app ad.
Promoted tweet converted to an in-app ad.
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Mobile phone users are used to seeing ads in apps prompting them to download other apps. But soon they may be seeing be seeing a different kind of ad in apps: promoted tweets and videos.

Twitter is going to offer the ability for advertisers to advertise their promoted tweets and videos with ads that appear in other apps. The move, in theory, could draw a whole new set of marketers to the MoPub network -- ones that typically didn't advertise using app-install ads, but do rely on paid ads on Twitter.

Last year, the company announced the Twitter Publisher Network, now being renamed Twitter Audience Platform, to sell app-install ads in mobile apps outside of Twitter, a move that was facilitated by the purchase of MoPub, the mobile ad exchange it bought in September 2013.

MoPub allowed advertisers to buy mobile app-install and app-engagement ads on Twitter, as well as on the thousands of apps within MoPub's network. Now Twitter advertisers can use that network of thousands of apps to extend their promoted videos and tweet campaigns, using new ad formats including video, native ads, banners and interstitials, said the company.

As with app-install ads, advertisers can participate in real-time bidding to buy promoted tweet and video ad inventory programmatically via MoPub.

Marketers can run promoted tweets or videos on an app in MoPub's network -- say, mobile messaging app Tango or Words with Friends 2 -- and the user will now be able to see the promoted tweet or video. If the user wanted to retweet that promoted tweet he or she sees in the Words with Friends 2 app, clicking on the ad would take the user back to Twitter, where the promoted tweet could be retweeted.

"Today when our clients when run ads on Twitter they can reach an audience of 300 million monthly active users," said Ameet Randive, senior director of revenue products at Twitter. With the new offering, he said, advertisers "can reach over 700 million people" with promoted tweets and videos by running those on apps through the Audience Platform. "We're helping them with this trend where consumers are spending much more time on mobile, and spending more time within apps."

He added that 80% to 90% of time spent on mobile is within apps. "We have demand from clients to be able to reach users not only on Twitter but through the Audience Platform."

Mr. Randive also said that for marketers, the effort is minimal. "We wanted to make it easy. All advertisers need to do is provide us one image or video and we do all the work on the back end, putting it into various ad placements, whether it's a native ad or interstitial ad."

Twitter worked with a few companies including Samsung Mobile in the U.K. on a closed beta testing phase, though it's now available globally. Samsung was the first advertiser to use promoted videos on the Twitter Audience Platform. "When video on the Twitter Audience Platform launched, we were keen to be the first U.K. advertiser to make use of this functionality. We saw a 365% increase in video views on the Twitter Audience Platform and [cost per views] saw an 84% decrease," said Graeme Winston, social associate director of precision marketing at Starcom Mediavest Group, which works with Samsung.

The expanded offering comes as there is internal tumult at the company. The platform, for one, is still searching for a new CEO after it announced that Dick Costolo would step down and interim chief Jack Dorsey stepped in.

And the company is trying to stave off decelerating user growth and to ensure that its growth challenges won't adversely affect its ad revenue. For now, it has been able to grow its ad revenue despite its struggles to grow its user base, but that could change if user growth stagnates. The company's ad revenue in the second quarter increased by 63% year-over-year to $452 million, with mobile ads accounting for 88% of that money.

Much of the need to attract new users -- and to keep ad revenue up -- has prompted the company to get serious about marketing itself. It's on the hunt for a new CMO and will launch its first integrated marketing campaign by the end of the year, the company said last month.

"We're developing a marketing strategy and plan to address" the monthly active user stagnation, said Twitter's CFO and de facto marketing head Anthony Noto during the company's second quarter earnings call. He said that even though 95% of people in Twitter's most important global markets are aware of Twitter, less than 30% of them actually use Twitter.

"This low level of penetration implies that we have only reached early adopters and technology enthusiasts, and we have not yet reached the next cohort of users known as the mass market."

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