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Native Advertising: Twitter Custom Audience Targeting

Native advertising is a form of paid media that takes the shape and function of the user experience in which it is placed. You will usually see native advertising on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Stumble Upon in the form of sponsored tweets, posts and so on:

Native Advertising Example

You will also see it on other major publications (i.e. Sky News) at the side or bottom of an article. It will almost always be labelled as a sponsored/promoted link/article. This service is offered by the likes Taboola and Outbrain:

Example of a Sponsored Native Advertising Post

Native advertising is a brilliant tactic for amplifying pieces of content to a larger audience. In turn, you gain more impressions, referral traffic, social media interactions, mentions and links.

However, the specific native advertising tactic that this article will concentrate on is how to utilise Twitter custom audience targeting to your advantage.

Why use this over traditional filters within Twitter’s advertising section?

  • Real, specific targeting of journalists, bloggers or a particular niche audience rather than the blanket approach which can still be the case with current filters
  • Better value on ad spend
  • Better conversations, click-though rates, social interactions and more due to the content/social offering being better tailored to a specific audience

It can be a great tactic but it hugely depends on the following points:

  • Relevant contacts – journalists, bloggers and influencers
  • Volume of contacts – scale for success
  • Timeliness of the campaign
  • A strong call to action
  • Message is on brand and speaks the same language as the targeted audience

Here’s the full, run-through guide with all the corresponding steps to putting the tactic into action. The steps below were geared to a campaign that targeted mothers and design-minded individuals. So for this run through I’ve used “mother” search terms as an example:

Important note before starting – You will need to use a minimum of 500 contacts in order to upload to the Twitter custom audience section. We wouldn’t recommend using email addresses or phone numbers as Twitter needs to match these up with Twitter handles and the success rate for this is low. Therefore use Twitter handles. The issue with this is that the Twitter accounts will need to be active in the last 30 days. So it is actually recommended to upload a minimum of 5000 contacts to counteract the inevitable inactive accounts in your lists.

1. Firstly compile a contact list from a PR database (i.e. Cision/Vuelio). Keep this broad, as volume is key.
a. Ensure your term(s) fits both the campaign and influencers/journalists that you’re looking for (here we used “Motherhood”).

Screenshot of Cision Database

2. Export this as a CSV. The example above doesn’t have enough contacts in terms of scaling a successful campaign so we’ll have to use another tool to find more influencers/ journalists. We’ll come onto this shortly.

a. The maximum you can export from Cision/Vuelio is 5000.

Maximum Export Screenshot From Cision

3. Once exported, remove all fields except the Twitter URL. This is all we need:

Excel Screenshot of Cision Export

4. Here we need to extract the Twitter handle from the Twitter URL. Simply press “Control + H” and inset the http://twitter.com/ in the “Find What” section and click “Replace All”. Repeat this for “Https”:

Excel Find and Replace Screenshot

5. Ensure there aren’t any discrepancies i.e. hashtags, blanks and etc. These can invalidate the upload of your custom audience list and slow the process.

6. You should be left with a list like this:

Screenshot of Excel Cells Containing Twitter Handles

7. We want at least a few thousand contacts, so we need to find more contacts elsewhere. Buzzsumo is an excellent tool for this. Buzzsumo is a content marketing tool where you can view relevant content in certain niches and trending content, as well as influencers and journalists in certain niches. Other tools like Follerwonk would suffice, but we’d recommend Buzzsumo.

a. In Buzzsumo, search for a relevant term in the influencer tab and export as a CSV. Here we search for multiple mother related terms:

Buzzsumo Screenshot

8. Again, delete everything expect the Twitter handle:

Screenshot of Excel Highlight Column Containing Twitter Handles

9. Now simply combine both the Twitter handles from Cision and Buzzsumo remove the duplicates and save as a CSV.

10. Now in Twitter Ads, create a new campaign and go through all the relevant steps:

Screenshot of Twitter Ads Dashboard

11. Under the “Select your audience section”, click on the tailored audience section then click on “create a list audience”

Screenshot of Audience Selection in Twitter Ads

Create New Audience List in Twitter Ads Screenshot

12. On the Create new list audience section, select “create new audience” and it is here where you’ll be able to upload your CSV. It says it can take up to 3 hours but in reality it can take as much as a day if your list is big enough, or if there are any discrepancies in your list. Ensure that you allow enough time for the upload:

Audience List Creation in Twitter

13. You will receive an email once it has been uploaded into Audience Manager. Click on the link in the email, attach the list and start the campaign.

Conclusions

  • And that’s it. A few points to add and finish on:
    There are numerous schools of thought on when to run native advertising campaigns. We’d run it after content exclusives have been run in the press.
  • Running it after this stage allows for content reinforcement on numerous platforms simultaneously (i.e. Social, email). Hereby increasing chances of gaining a journalist’s attention.
  • Scale for success = Volume is key
  • Call to actions shouldn’t sound like an ad. Aim for a more informative view (include and interesting fact for instance)
    – Although this should always be correctly tailored to the audience.
  • It is still hard to measure and to correctly attribute the success of this tactic however, you can insert a link (pointing to the content piece/campaign in the sponsored tweet which you can track in terms of CTRs
    – You can also measure and attribute the social interactions (i.e. comments, likes, retweets)- Remember to benchmark all results so that you can track your progress.

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