Twitter Is Going Head-To-Head With Facebook In 'Custom Audience' Advertising

Twitter CEO Dick CostoloTwitter CEO Dick Costolo

Lost in the shuffle last week when Twitter officially unveiled two new video ad products was Bloomberg’s unconfirmed report that Twitter is also working on a “custom audiences” advertising tool.

Facebook already has one.

A “custom audiences” function would allow a retailer like Best Buy to bring its list of customer email addresses to Twitter. Twitter would then serve ads against any user who had the same email address as those on Best Buy’s list. By doing so, Best Buy can compare the performance of ads targeting its own customers versus those not on the list, and see which types of ads perform better. It advances the kind of ROI analytics Twitter can provide.

It’s a logical next step for Twitter. Facebook is far ahead of it in terms of ad analytics and data matching (Facebook’s custom audiences tool gives advertisers access to the Datalogix database of customer info).

More importantly, it moves Twitter beyond mere keyword targeting. Until now, if you wanted to advertise on Twitter, you were limited mostly to targeting words that people have tweeted or the followers of accounts that are related to your brand.

That’s fine as far as it goes — but none of those targeting options actually identify customers specifically, the way Facebook can. Twitter’s main handicap here is that you can open account with just an email and a fake name — there’s no “real identity” on Twitter.

By using an email address in a custom audience list matching product, Twitter adds a layer of targeting onto its ad ecosystem.

Custom audiences would bring to four the number of new ad products Twitter has released recently. They include:

  • An Ads API, to allow third parties to lock and load ads into Twitter in a mass, automated fashion, through buyers like TBG Digital, Adobe and Salesforce.
  • Twitter Amplify, a video advertising product for media companies who want to run video ads alongside clips and highlights.
  • Twitter TV Ad Targeting, for advertisers who want to target TV audiences while they’re watching.

Disclosure: The author owns Facebook stock.

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