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TIL: Twitter’s Conversation Targeting

Written by: Erik Mansur, VP, Product and Engineering

This is the latest post in our “TIL (today I learned)” blog series that puts a spotlight on specific digital advertising technologies and strategies. Today we give you the lowdown on Twitter’s “Conversation Targeting.”

So WTF is Conversation Targeting?

Twitter’s Conversation Targeting is a set of 10,000 individual conversation topics in six languages and more than 25 different categories that allow marketers to deliver their ads to users who are actively engaged in a relevant topic.

Unlike “Keywords”, “Conversations” benefit from the addition of machine learning, hand-selection and fine-tuning, allowing for closer adherence to the “real-timeyness” of how users interact with Twitter.

What problems does it solve?

Using “Conversations” for user targeting is akin to a refined version of Twitter’s existing “Keywords”. So, while “Keywords” are more free-form in nature, allowing for any hashtagged phrase or combination of words to be used for targeting, “Conversations” are a list of specific topics curated by specialists at Twitter to ensure there’s a critical mass of users worth advertising to.

Related post: TIL: Facebook’s Minimum ROAS Bidding

For example: Let’s say you’re an e-commerce advertiser that sells Marvel Comics-themed products. Before “Conversations” existed as a way to target all users participating in a dialogue about those movies and characters, the advertiser would have to create an exhaustive list of up to 1,000 keywords that addressed each individual Marvel-related topic. But with ”Conversations”, the advertiser could simply create an ad that targets the conversation “Entertainment Brand: Marvel Universe” to seek out the ideal customer base for these products.

Simply put, Conversation Targeting makes it far easier for an advertiser to market their products to an audience that’s highly engaged with political, pop-cultural, or sports-related topics within Twitter’s real-time, always-on environment.

What are the best ways for me to use Conversation Targeting to make my advertising campaigns successful?

Any public relations professional worth their salt will tell you that “trend-jacking” is an incredibly useful tool to associate your own brand with a topic capturing the public’s imagination. Depending on what’s happening in the world, there could be countless trends tangentially related to your brand that can be “trend-jacked” to suit your needs.

“Conversation Targeting makes it far easier for advertisers to market their products to an audience that’s highly engaged with political, pop-cultural, or sports-related topics within Twitter’s real-time environment.”

Remember, unlike Facebook where “interests” reflect the passions that define a person throughout their life, “Conversations” are what Twitter users are talking about right now. And because “Conversation” topics have actually been identified as having enough interactions to be relevant in an ad campaign, it makes it far easier for an advertiser to take advantage of these zeitgeisty trends. So if there are hot-button issues that could be pertinent to the users from whom you’re looking to drive sales or downloads, expanding your “Conversation” targeting to topics in politics, entertainment, or sports could be fruitful.

For example, let’s refer back to the hypothetical e-commerce company mentioned earlier. As an advertiser, you could get your Marvel super-hero product line additional exposure by targeting the Conversation topic “Movie Genre: Action & Adventure” in the days before a movie featuring a well-known comic book character opens.

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Given that most of the Twitter conversation around an action movie during this time will be amongst fans of those characters, it’s an exciting opportunity to get your ad in front of highly engaged people who could be interested in your products.

Twitter has long been considered the social network of the “now”, exposing users to things happening in a hyper-present way. While other targeting types such as “Events” or “Similar Followers” can come close to appropriating that same level of immediacy, Twitter’s “Conversation” targeting is the most distilled way for advertisers to reach users who are engaged and relevant right now.

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