Twitter Starts Testing Cookie And Email Based Ad Targeting

In a bid to  personalize and strengthen ad targeting even further, Twitter is experimenting with new ad targeting options. The new method will allow advertisers to target users based on things they did off the service, like web browsing, as well as personal information like an email address.

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Users won’t see more ads on Twitter, but they may see better ones”, wrote Kevin Well, Twitter senior director of product for revenue, in a blog post. He further added, “How will it work? Let’s say a local florist wants to advertise a Valentine’s Day special on Twitter. They’d prefer to show their ad to flower enthusiasts who frequent their website or subscribe to their newsletter. To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the shop may share with us a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash) or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID). We can then match that information to accounts in order to show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine’s Day deal”.

For starters, the tailored adds are targeted only to the US users only saying it will roll it out to more users in other countries based on the results of testing. Twitter users can opt out of the targeting by un-checking the “promoted content” module in their accounts. For users who are concerned about the privacy implications of such a move, Twitter’s Do Not Track support spares users from new browsing history-derived ads.

Twitter is only the latest web company to use cookies, which have been deployed for years by firms like Google Inc , Facebook Inc , Amazon Inc and practically every other major website. This ad targeting is similar to two types of Facebook ad formats, known as FBX and Custom Audiences, respectively.

Twitter’s new feature is expected to raise advertising rates and revenues for the company, arrives in the midst of heightened public debate over the erosion of online privacy. This latest form of ad targeting follows Twitter’s keyword ad targeting and its reported geo targeted ads for brands. In February, Twitter  launched its advertising APIs which was followed by its  biggest ad deal with Starcom MediaVest Group in April.

EMarketer in late March estimated that Twitter’s total ad revenue will more than double year-over-year to $582.8 million in 2013 and is on track to hit $950 million in 2014.  With such ad targeting methods, Twitter might actually give out the stated results.

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