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Twitter pushes forward with self-service advertising tools, allows for better targeting

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As Twitter looks for more and more ways to turn its massive user base into revenue and profit, the company is expanding the options available to a select few who are trying out its self-service ad system.

Twitter announced Monday that it has further refined its targeting options for self-service advertisers on Twitter, allowing companies to advertise specifically to people based on the accounts that they follow. While Twitter’s self-service advertising product is still in beta since its launch about a year ago, Twitter is clearly focused on improving and refining the product before it opens it up to everyone.

Advertising is key to Twitter’s monetization strategy, and as the company refines its leadership and prepares for a potential IPO, nailing the type of service that Google used to make its advertising platform will be key. We’ll be discussing the future of digital advertising on several panels in April at our PaidContent Live conference in New York.

So, for instance, if I follow @UNC_Basketball on Twitter, I might start seeing more promoted tweets geared specifically toward UNC fans, since Twitter will allow advertisers to serve ads up to specific audiences based on the accounts they follow. Advertisers have always had their promoted tweets matched with appropriate interest groups, but the improved targeting will give advertisers more controls to pick the audience. Twitter explained how it works in a blog post:

“Our self-service advertisers can now target interests in two specific ways. First, they can target users with the same interests as followers of @usernames. For example, if a golf pro shop were promoting itself, it might target users who are similar to those who follow @GolfDigestMag, @GolfChannel or even a former professional golfer like Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59).”

The company will also allow advertisers to target particular platforms like Android phones, giving them greater flexibility in where promoted tweets appear and to which user, and target ads around a user’s gender. Advertisers will also be able to pick from generic interest categories as well:

“They can also choose from a wide-ranging list of over 350 interest categories—from auto racing to birdwatching (or in this case, golf). By targeting people’s interests, advertisers can tailor their messages to reach those most likely to engage with them.”

twitter advertising targeting

Users who want to pay for ads on Twitter will now also have access to a more advanced set of tools if they want a larger-scale advertising campaign on the platform, likely for bigger businesses using the service.

This post was updated at 1:18 PST to clarify how companies can target promoted tweets to particular groups.