Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

Twitter's potential is just beginning to be realised as a way to tap into our lives

What do you think is the peak time for jogging in the UK? Saturday morning, perhaps, when people have more personal time. Maybe Sunday afternoons?

The answer is Tuesday mornings before work, suggests data gleaned from Twitter. Insight like this must represent opportunities for brands - and hundreds of thousands of such data trails are being unearthed every month as Twitter activity increases.

According to its UK managing director, Bruce Daisley, people tend to use Twitter for three things: content discovery, human interaction and personal expression. "The biorhythm of how people are using the platform is becoming incredibly interesting," he says. Such data is valuable, and brands are starting to realise it.

Last week, the newspaper body Newsworks became the latest to mine Twitter’s data. Its #NewsOnTheTweet research confirmed the valued role that news brands and journalists play on the social media platform. Most of Twitter’s 15 million UK users (60 per cent) follow news brands. A similar percentage treat Twitter as an opportunity to engage with newspapers they wouldn’t normally read – confirming its discovery credentials.

'Research found that TV ads are 36 per cent more effective when supported by Promoted Tweets'

And it’s not just newspapers; Twitter is increasingly being viewed as a powerful complement in many media mixes. Daisley says Twitter's own research into the buoyant TV sector, where ad revenue grew 3.5 per cent last year to a record £4.63 billion (according to Thinkbox), found that TV ads are 36 per cent more effective when supported by Promoted Tweets.

Advertisers are attracted to Twitter’s combination of creativity and accountability, the managing director says, and revelations contained within its annual report last week suggest he is right. Campaign had estimated that Twitter took £45 million in spend in 2013; we were in the right ballpark, with the actual figure £40 million ($66.5m).

But, rather aptly, more interesting than this headline figure are the growth trends within the report. In the last quarter of 2013, as Twitter went public, UK revenue really started motoring, hitting £14.1 million. That's more than half as much it had made during the whole of the previous nine months.

Twitter's local growth follows the roll-out of its retargeting services, which factor in third-party data. Advertisers can now target Twitter users based on their previous web activity and other personal data collected that feeds into their Interest Graphs.

Like a nascent Facebook before it, the UK represents Twitter’s biggest market outside of the US, responsible for 10 per cent of total revenue. It is now reported to be making more than £1 million a week from advertisers using its Promoted Products, the majority of which are pay-for-performance.

Expect this momentum to continue as more brands plug into real-time, interest-clustered opportunities, with video a notable growth area. Daisley will be hoping to attract £2 million a week from advertising before the end of the summer.