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As Twitter Experiments With New Ad Targeting, Is Social Networking Becoming The New Mobile Advertising Platform?

Twitter and Facebook have become the two largest social networks in the west. With hundreds of millions of users updating, tweeting, and sharing every day it’s clear to see why advertisers have started to look into advertising on these platforms.

Twitter launched in 2006 and has since become one of the biggest microblogging sites around. Twitter currently has a user base of around 600 million writing over 400 million Tweets per day. Facebook’s stats are just as impressive. Since its worldwide launch in 2005 Facebook has since gained over 1.1 billion users.

Both of these social networks rely quite a lot on advertising to stay afloat with a large majority of their revenue coming from the mobile sector.

In recent news Kevin Weil, Senior Director of Product, Revenue at Twitter wrote on their blog that the company is planning on experimenting with a new way to make ads on Twitter more useful to their users based in the United States.

The way that this will work is pretty simple. Much like traditional mobile advertising, Twitter plans to target users based on previous engagement with customers whether that’s via a newsletter subscription or a browser cookie ID. Twitter then shares the advertisers advert specifically to those users in order to target custom based on browsing history or previous brand engagement.

Unlike mobile advertising, Twitter’s new advertisement experiment is completely opt-out if the user wishes.

“While we want to make our ads more useful, we also want to give users simple and meaningful privacy options. Simply uncheck the box next to “Promoted content” in your account settings, and Twitter will not match your account to information shared by our ad partners for tailoring ads. This is the only place you’ll need to disable this feature on Twitter.” reads the blog post.

Twitter plans to initially roll this type of advertising out to the United States first with other countries to follow based on the results of the testing.

With the experiment Twitter plan to “listen” to their users by giving them the option to dismiss ads they don’t find relevant using a “dismiss” link at the bottom of a sponsored Tweet or by clicking an “x” found on a promoted account. Twitter then “pays close attention to dismissals,” in order to determine whether an advertiser is required to pay more, or have their advertising quota lowered.

With targeted ads users are always concerned about their privacy. Twitter have assured users that any information acquired, specifically more personal information such as email addresses will be “a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash)”. In terms of the information advertisers receive Twitter had this to say:

“Our testing of tailored ads does not share any new or different information with ad partners. Advertisers will continue to receive the same reports that include how many users saw or clicked on an ad, without identifying who saw it or clicked on it. These reports contain only aggregate, non-personal information. We do not share your private personal information with advertisers without your permission”.

With all that talk of Twitter, Facebook has recently released their earnings report that shows that the social network had around 189 million “Mobile-only monthly active users” who accessed Facebook solely through their mobile apps or the mobile website.

In this report it also showed who exactly the top buyers of ads on the network were, with Financial Services coming in on top with Software, Telecommunications, and Retail following closely behind.

According to a report by eMarketer Google is still at the forefront of mobile advertising spends with over 55% market share expected this year, but Facebook is slowly on the rise – not by much; only 12% overall – but compared to their 5% share in 2012 that’s an increase of over 300%.

Last year mobile advertising spend reached around $8.8 billion dollars Though Google was responsible for over half of that spend, it’s clear to see that advertising on social networking is becoming a key factor that advertisers should consider. With most advertisements having a native appearance within the Twitter and Facebook mobile apps, they become more inviting and consumers tend to pay more attention to them.

Social sharing also plays a key factor with social networking with users choosing to share advertisements they’ve seen with connections on their friends lists or followers causing the advertisement to reach more people for half the cost of a traditional online web advertisement.

With the technology found within most smartphones, advertising can now become more specific and relevant to consumers and it shows that social networks such as Twitter are utilizing this feature — it’s going to be interesting to see how mobile advertising develops in the future.

Aaron Richardson is a 24-year-old techno nerd, musician, and aspiring tech writer. He is the editor of n3rdabl3.co.uk and author of Mobile Ad Comparison.
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