Twitter gives small businesses more advertising options

Small businesses now have more ways to engage users and monitor ad campaigns

Twitter is beefing up its self-service ad platform to give smaller businesses more targeting and analytics tools to reach potential customers on the site.

The changes are twofold. First, self-service advertisers will have a wider set of options at their disposal to target certain types of people on the social network. Second, advertisers will have access to Twitter's advanced interface, which boasts deeper campaign controls and more detailed reporting and analytics data.

The new features are currently available only to U.S.-based businesses, with international expansion to commence later this year, Twitter said Monday in a blog post.

Twitter's self-service ad platform has been available to businesses since last March, but Monday's expansion follows recurring feedback from marketers, the company said.

"Two requests kept coming up: marketers wanted access to more robust targeting tools, as well as a pathway to all the bells and whistles of our advanced interface if they desired it," said Ravi Narasimhan, Twitter's revenue product manager, in the blog post.

Under the new targeting options, for instance, self-service advertisers can target users with the same interests as followers of @usernames. So a pro golf shop can target users who are similar to those who follow, say, @GolfDigestMag, @GolfChannel or specific professional golfers.

Marketers can also select from more than 350 interest categories, ranging from auto racing to bird-watching, to tailor their ads to specific users. Additionally, businesses can choose to have their Promoted Tweets displayed on specific devices and platforms. With that option, a company can run campaigns on Android devices to download its Android app while on iOS devices it can direct users to Apple's App Store, said Twitter.

Marketers in the program can now also target their ads by gender.

With the advanced advertising interface, meanwhile, small businesses can, among other things, see a more granular breakdown in campaign reporting. That means that companies will be able to see how different users engage with Promoted Tweet and Promoted Account campaigns by device, location, gender and interest.

Twitter's Promoted Tweets program lets companies pay for sponsored tweets appearing in people's timelines, while Promoted Accounts gives companies analytics tools in exchange for pay.

The self-service ad platform's new mobile OS customization features are worth singling out, as social media companies look to better monetize their services on handheld devices.

Twitter's efforts to increase advertising revenues and offer businesses more tracking tools appear to be far-reaching. This reporter, for example, received an email from the site this afternoon identifying him as a small business and inviting him to advertise.

Those types of emails are sent "to accounts our system makes an educated guess are businesses or represent businesses, and who might be interested in learning more about our tools," a company spokesman said in response.

The new platform options also follow Twitter's recently scaled-up API (application programming interface) program for advertisers.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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Zach Miners

IDG News Service
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