How Twitter’s advertising is moving beyond 140 characters

Twitter is looking to boost its appeal to brands by introducing interactive advertising and high quality live video content.

Twitter wants marketers to see it as more than 140 characters as it focuses on providing more ways for brands to reach consumers.

That started with the introduction of Twitter Moments and continues with a more global focus on live videos, aimed at enabling brands to “express themselves” on a wider scale.

The focus for video is on sport, entertainment and politics and will include live Twitter streams that allow users to get involved, critique and comment on events or brand videos.

Twitter has developed its video platform Periscope so that the streaming service works from TV production technology, not just through phones. It has also made its other ad formats, including Amplify and Niche, more accessible to brands by working on their quality to appeal to higher end brands, including Louis Vuitton.

David Wilding, director of planning at Twitter UK, told Marketing Week at Twitter’s IAB UK Upfronts event today (20 October) that video, which is already a primary focus in the US with the political debates between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton and the NFL sporting series, will now be pushed out globally. The company said it saw a 30% uplift in viewers between the first and second debates, with stats from the third debate last night yet to come through.

“The biggest misconception is character limit and a limit to creativity. But we are overcoming that and more brands are seeing our potential.”

David Wilding, director of planning, Twitter UK

Wilding said the biggest barrier to brands doing more on Twitter in the past has been not knowing what to do if they are more serious or “not a fun brand”.

“The biggest barrier has been, how do I express myself on Twitter if I’m not funny and I’m not Innocent Drinks, who can say something witty within 140 characters. How do I use Twitter?” he said.

Wilding believes Twitter now has much more on offer for brands including its recent work on interactive advertising. This includes its campaign for the British Heart Foundation, which saw people receive different responses when they ‘liked’ a tweet to highlight that only one in 10 people who have heart attacks outside hospital survive.

And today it has a launched a ‘#PartnerUp’ campaign with Microsoft’s Xbox console that partners up “likeminded” gamers on Twitter.

Wilding says interactive advertising is a key strategy for brands as it is a great way to target customers interested in what is happening. Twitter also highlighted that its users are the first to hear about news, with 70% of them hearing something through Twitter before other platforms.

“Everything at Twitter comes down to two words, ‘what’s happening’. Brands recognise that if they can capture people who are interested in what is happening, they can spread their message to other people. Interactive is a good way to get people’s attention,” Wilding commented.

Wilding said that one of the criticisms Twitter has received from its live video has been that it is not easy to discover. He said that this is something the company is working on and that developments such as the “While you’re away” feature help users find relevant and interesting content more easily.