Advertising Drives Twitter Into the Future

It wasn’t long before Twitter’s first 15-second TV ad hit the airwaves that media and tech pundits were all atwitter about Twitter’s advertising strategy. And with good reason: Already, Twitter’s approach to advertising looks more plausible than Facebook’s.

Twitter employed the best aspects of media integration, selecting a specific high-viewership TV event – NASCAR’s Pocono 400 – and demonstrating just how the social media tool could enrich the racing experience. The TV ad, brilliant in its simplicity, showed nothing more than a happy racecar driver using his mobile phone, backed by upbeat music. The headline, “See what he sees,” was followed by “#NASCAR,” after which “Twitter.com/#NASCAR” appeared to remind those few who don’t already know that the hashtag is a unique part of Twitter’s brand.

But it’s what happens when the television viewer goes to #NASCAR on Twitter that makes the ad special. There, in all its glory, is what amounts to a NASCAR ad with the look and feel of the NASCAR brand – yet it still retains the structural efficiency of a Twitter page. In effect, Twitter launched a new ad product, a Twitter brand page, with its ad campaign.

Raising Expectations

On its blog, Twitter pre-announced the campaign:

 “This weekend, Twitter will take you onto the track, into the pit, and among the crowd at the Pocono 400 with twitter.com/#NASCAR. You’ll discover the best Tweets, photos and perspectives from NASCAR drivers and their families, crews, commentators, celebrities and fans – all in a single timeline. You’ll discover the #NASCAR page when you search or click #NASCAR on twitter.com or mobile.twitter.com.

Throughout the weekend – but especially during the race – a combination of algorithms and curation will surface the most interesting Tweets to bring you closer to all of the action happening around the track, from the garage to the victory lane.

Anyone watching the Pocono 400 on Sunday – even if you’re not a current Twitter user – can visit twitter.com/#NASCAR watch the race unfold from every angle, and get insider access to all the places the cameras can’t take you.”

Analyze those words and you’ll realize how well Twitter knows its own capabilities. Playing the “behind the scenes” card is a powerful way to promote Twitter’s exclusivity and suggest that it is the Tweets, not the TV coverage, that can give the NASCAR enthusiast a deeper experience. You can almost hear tires screeching and smell burning rubber. I also like the not-so-subtle use of the word “timeline” to jab at Facebook.

Taking a Direct Path

The other thing about the Twitter ad campaign that gladdens my direct marketing heart is the recognition that television isn’t just a passive medium – it can very effectively be used to generate leads. Twitter’s choice to advertise during this particular televised event, which truly can be augmented by social media, was smart audience targeting. Offering that audience a response path to get more of what they want is fundamentally sound direct marketing.

Just as important, the Twitter campaign had another audience: brand advertisers themselves. Writing in Ad Age, Cotton Delo said “the spot that aired on Sunday seems designed to show advertisers that hashtags can potentially be a useful branding tool and not merely a pop-culture phenomenon.” Arik Hesseldahl of All Things D adds,  “The hope, apparently, is that advertisers can be convinced to pay for Twitter-hosted pages that automatically aggregate relevant content on a particular subject. …The move would appear to be an answer to that one great perennial question about Twitter: Having corralled 140 million-odd users, how does it intend to make money?”

Beefing Up Its Ad Staff

It’s no wonder that, at the same time Twitter was launching its TV ad, the company was also in the process of feverishly hiring. The majority of the 40 or so open positions, according to Business Insider, are in-ad sales. Recent hires (many of whom came from Google) include former Google VP Richard Alfonsi, now VP of Twitter’s global online sales, and Shailesh Rao, who is heading up Asia-Pacific sales.

Clearly, Twitter is on its way to squarely addressing monetization through advertising – something that Facebook could not do convincingly, before or after its celebrated IPO. Twitter’s #NASCAR campaign is indicative of how a social media company can not only play nice with television, but put that medium to very good use.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

2 Responses to Advertising Drives Twitter Into the Future

  1. organic seo says:

    This is really wonderful. Twitter is continuously making efforts for being the best social networking site and hence very good and helpful for online marketing.

  2.  This is my first time here and you are simply amazing! Love it!