Twitter Turns 12,000 Users Into Quick-Research Panel for Marketers

Brands Can Use 'Insiders' to Gauge Campaigns Before or As They Run

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Credit: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Twitter has begun a new initiative aimed at giving advertisers insights from 12,000 users chosen by the social media platform.

Dubbed Twitter Insiders, the program's goal is to create a one-stop shop for advertisers to recruit, design and collect live research.

A brand that wants to push a risky campaign, for example, could run it by Insiders first to gauge whether it's offensive or effective. "Twitter Insiders research helps take the guesswork out of important business decisions," Gemma Proctor, research manager at Twitter, said in a statement. "Efforts that traditionally required long-term planning and costly resources can now be taken on more quickly and efficiently with the support of our Twitter Insiders network."

Twitter says Insiders are anonymous, at least 16 years old and live either in the United States or United Kingdom. Upon signing up, Insiders are asked to share things about themselves such as income, education, gender and what their interest are, Twitter said.

The company is offering advertisers short and long-term projects where Insiders participate in surveys. The former, which can be turned around as quickly as a few days, might include asking Insiders to evaluate a live campaign so agencies can fine tune it in real-time. Long-term projects can take four to six weeks to complete, are research intensive and might include how a new product or movie should launch its ad campaign.

Twitter will not pay Insiders for their participation, but will provide rewards from gift cards to electronics such as iPads or smartphones, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The group can also be asked to take pictures, test video and analyze facial expressions from images, among other things. The Insiders will have access to a devoted message board and, if they wish, can poll other users in the same fashion as they do on Twitter itself.

"The community exists as a living forum for members to exchange questions and ideas with each other," Tim Perzyk, director, market insights and analytics at Twitter, told Ad Age. "We select research methodologies based on the questions we'd like to answer on behalf of our clients. This includes a wide range of qualitative and quantitative techniques including forum like-environments and surveys, as well as guided activities such as recording one's mobile video viewing and providing a voice-over of the experience."

Insiders is only available to marketers through Twitter's existing agency partners. They can access Insiders directly and create studies through CSpace, a group of consultants who focus on collaboration between companies and customers.

The company, whose stock has fallen nearly 36% since its IPO, has been aggressively ramping up its advertising efforts.

"We realized the opportunity to tap into our engaged and influential audience -- not only to conduct powerful research, but also to link their responses to the wealth of behavioral information we observe about these users, such as what they tweet, which tweets they like, and who they follow," Mr. Perzyk said. "This puts us in a unique position to address advertisers' queries quickly and in a multidimensional way that other publishers cannot."

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