Twitter confident interest-led targeting has benefits over Facebook friends

VIDEO: Twitter's early attempts to lure advertisers with interest-based targeting capabilities is proving to be "very, very compelling", according to chief executive Dick Costolo, and the service is set to expand "significantly" over the coming year.

Speaking at IAB Engage 2012 last week (25 October), Costolo was bullish about Twitter’s launch of interest-based targeting at the end of August, believing it offers distinct advantages over Facebook’s likes.

Costolo said: "We’ve just rolled out our interest-based targeting and our ad platform and we will expand on our capabilities in that regard significantly.

"It you think about Facebook as a social graph, we really don’t think about Twitter as a social network. We think about the follower graph as more of an interest graph. I follow, for example, the San Francisco Giants baseball team, but I’m not ‘friends’ with the San Francisco Giants.

"My follower graph paints a picture of the kinds of things I’m interested in, and we believe, and early results show that we’re correct, that the interest graph is a very, very compelling way to target advertisements."

Highlighting that more than half a billion tweets are now regularly being sent every day, Costolo advised marketers wanting to succeed on the platform to be authentic. He said: "Brands must have an authentic voice... you can be quirky, you can have a different tone of voice than you might normally have, that's OK as long as users think it's authentic."

He highlighted O2 as a UK brand currently doing a "fantastic job" on Twitter.

There are currently 350 interest categories advertisers can choose, ranging from education, pets, science, law and personal finance, which can then be drilled down into more granular topics.

In a clear indication that Twitter plans further developments and refinements in the area, Costolo said: "We’ll put a bunch of engineering work into improving the algorithms around that in the coming year, and I think it’ll be even more successful."  

Also at IAB Engage, Media Week caught up with Twitter’s UK sales director, Bruce Daisley, who explained further the value in advertisers being able to "pinpoint" the things that people are really, genuinely interested in.

He said: "People tend to follow their interests… we’ve got a whole load signals of what people are following. We use those interests, those signals that we get about what people are following to show different messages to them. So different, promoted tweets are targeted based on up to 350 different interest categories.

"An advertiser only pays if someone clicks on it or retweets on it, so I guess it’s two levels of filtration, firstly we show you something we think you’re interested in, and then the advertiser only pays if someone clicks."

Video by @BRProducers