OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 04/21/2014 By Mark Glaser and Angela Washeck

Coming to Twitter: ads, redesign, CNN

There are so many changes coming to Twitter that it may be hard to recognize in a few months. The micro-blogging network is realizing it has to be more than a micro-blogging network and become a more visual platform for marketers to keep up with the Joneses (Facebook and Google). So Twitter will soon be offering as many as 15 new ad formats to marketers, focusing heavily on app install ads that have been successful on Facebook’s mobile product. The current model of sponsored tweets, sponsored trends and recommended accounts wasn’t working, and mobile game and e-commerce companies were clamoring to push sign-ups and app downloads, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Yoree Koh. As Koh noted, Twitter has tried to make its user experience as ad-free as possible, but prioritizing the user ahead of the advertiser comes at a price. MediaPost’s Steve Smith noted that eMarketer’s growth projections for Twitter aren’t encouraging, with new user growth decreasing from 19.4 percent in 2013 to less than ten percent in 2015. “Twitter continues to have a scale problem when competing against powerhouses like Facebook, Google and even Yahoo,” Smith wrote. Still, Twitter ads generate more clicks and generally perform better than Facebook ads because they appear in a less cluttered environment — even though marketers are more likely to buy from Facebook, reported WSJ’s Mike Shields. Perhaps Twitter’s focus on immediate-response ads might be valuable to media organizations such as the New York Times as well as Circa-type startups looking for users to download apps.

The question is whether all these ad options will end up making a difference. As Marketing Land’s Martin Beck wrote, a recent Deutsche Bank study showed that 50 percent of Twitter users find ads on the platform random, while only 17 percent find them relevant. Twitter’s introduction of new ads may be a further filtering and targeting practice — sure to benefit media buyers. At the same time, Twitter is beta-testing a dramatic redesign of its interface that looks very Facebook-like. That’s right: Twitter is becoming less about sending 140-character messages and more about connecting brands and consumers on an intimate level. Adweek’s Garett Sloane found that the hashtag culture is still lost on many members of the general public, so Twitter is stepping up its game with bigger cover and profile photos, larger tweets to represent a higher level of engagement and, of particular interest to publishers, video. Twitter’s redesign, which will be rolled out completely in the coming weeks, makes way for Amplify, a self-dubbed “media forward” solution that lets media organizations share video content in the Twitter stream. “More media partners and advertisers are sharing video that plays with one click right on Twitter,” wrote Sloane. Photo slideshows within tweets have debuted already, and the Twitter-owned Vine is seeking ways for brands to connect with users through direct messaging. And CNN is now partnering with Twitter for its new “15 Second Morning” web show as part of CNN Digital Studios. The show is “built specifically to be viewed and shared on Twitter (and other social platforms) … That project seems to be CNN’s answer to mobile-first news startups like NowThis News and Circa,” wrote WSJ’s Mike Shields.