Context is King for Twitter’s New Keyword Targeting

by James Glick on Thursday 16 May 2013
As the dust has settled following the launch of Twitter’s keyword targeting a couple of weeks ago, the Forward3D team looked in detail at the functionality and the tactics that would be required to make it successful for our clients. 

As the dust has settled following the launch of Twitter’s keyword targeting a couple of weeks ago, the Forward3D team looked in detail at the functionality and the tactics that would be required to make it successful for our clients.


Twitter’s new targeting tool will allow advertisers to promote their tweets alongside users’ timelines who have used specific keywords and phrases in their tweets. When combined with location information, device and gender it’s a powerful opportunity for brands to reach customers. Match type functionality akin to your usual PPC campaign is also available to maintain control but this shouldn’t be the primary concern for advertisers, it’s the context of the tweet they’ve targeted that could be the difference between a successful or failed campaign.


This post looks to outline some key principles and considerations that we think are important to utilising this new targeting tool.

Firstly, control


As mentioned and shown above in the screengrab, Twitter’s keyword targeting tool also comes with match types that you’d normally find in your PPC account. Exact, Phrase, Broad and negatives are all available for use and make the platform much more approachable to paid search teams. Unfortunately, you’re not able to utilise Exact match or negatives within timeline targeting; only within search results can you use the full array of match types but with 2.1 billion search queries a day on Twitter, you might still be able to find a strong audience for your target market.

Negatives will be particularly important in filtering out negative tweets and ensuring you’re not targeting irrelevant content that could also provide negative feedback to your brands or clients social media profiles. With a less control available when targeting timelines, using a combination of Phrase match and “Match in Any Order”, Twitter’s equivalent to Broad Match Modifier in AdWords, will be vital to achieving a high quality of traffic and a relevant audience.


Context is king


The vast majority of our work and objectives for clients at Forward3D is to drive sales and leads at a profitable level, not necessarily branding or exposure. With this in mind, our discussions quickly turned to how to utilise this feature to target prospective customers at the moment where their intent to purchase is highest. Just because you’re using Twitter’s version of exact match in your keyword targeting doesn’t necessarily mean that a user has shown clear intent to purchase. They could be providing an opinion of a product they already have, be recommending it to others or even criticising the brand or product.

What’s clear is that to drive traffic that’ll have a high conversion rate will require changing the type of keywords you target - importing your highest converting AdWords keywords won’t be sufficient. To ensure the greatest return on investment, targeting keywords with intent within the phrase will give you the best results. For example, including terms such as “buy”, “release date”, “price”, “discount” within the keyword phrases will help improve the propensity to purchase.




Granularly targeted and high frequency but short activity length campaigns are well known to produce the best results through social advertising; ensuring a tactile approach to these aspects of a campaign will ensure users won’t find them too intrusive and/or potentially causing brand blindness. The importance is amplified when you consider you won’t be able to stop showing ads to a user if they’ve already converted off the ad, as you can with search and display re-marketing.


Finally, privacy…


Then of course there’s the age-old issue of privacy - how will the Twitter community feel about ads targeting them based on what they tweet? If you find it a little creepy that Facebook ads seem to know that you like wine and were thinking of booking a trip to Vienna in the near future, then receiving albeit relevant ads whenever you post a tweet could affect users’ levels of engagement depending on how widespread this type of targeting is used across the platform.


Twitter has though, seen some success during a beta phase which suggested that the new targeting will help brands drive more valuable engagement with prospective customers:

“In our tests with a small group of advertisers and agencies like Everything Everywhere (@EE), Microsoft Japan (@SurfaceJP), and Walgreens (@Walgreens), users were significantly more likely to engage with Promoted Tweets using keyword targeting in timeline than other forms of targeting in the timeline.”

If you’re thinking about trialling this new tool, its important to consider the factors outlined in this post or you’ll likely see poor performance in terms of conversions and engagement as well as potentially negative feedback to your or your clients social media outlets.