Twitter expands its advertising ambitions with WPP global partnership


Just a few weeks after signing a substantial advertising deal with Starcom Mediavest Group — a major global ad buyer for companies like Walmart and Coca-Cola — Twitter has signed a similar agreement with WPP Group, one of the world’s largest advertising firms. Although no financial details have been released, WPP calls the deal a “global strategic partnership.” It’s the latest in a series of moves by Twitter that are designed to make it easier for advertisers to target consumers based on their activity, and thereby boost Twitter’s revenue.

A WPP release says that the partnership will allow the group’s various units to “leverage Twitter data” in order to deliver more effective campaigns, “enhanced targeting” and more real-time insight for the firm’s clients, and that the two will work together to approach key clients. Sir Martin Sorrell, the chairman of WPP, said Twitter’s relevance continues to grow “not only as a social platform, but also as a window into consumer attitudes and behaviour in real time.”

Sorrell’s interest in expanding his firm’s relationship with Twitter should probably be a wake-up call for traditional media companies, most of whom are used to getting the bulk of their advertising revenue from WPP’s clients. Sorrell said recently that he views Twitter, Google and Facebook as “media owners masquerading as technology companies,” and Twitter’s real-time behavior analytics are something many media players can’t even hope to duplicate.

Making Twitter ads more targeted

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While there is no dollar value on the WPP deal, it will almost certainly be worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for Twitter: the recent deal with Starcom (a unit of Publicis) was described by the Financial Times as being worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” over a period of several years. The Starcom arrangement also provided clients of the firm with preferential access to advertising slots within Twitter’s network. At the time that deal was announced, the global CEO of Starcom Mediavest told the FT that Twitter “in a very short period of time, has gone from an experiment to something that is essential.”

Much of what advertisers are interested in is the real-time information network’s ability to function as a “second screen” for TV viewers, and Twitter has been devoting most of its resources to capitalizing on this phenomenon: the company recently launched a series of partnerships with broadcasters and content companies called Twitter Amplify, and has also been refining its ability to offer advertisers targeting based on specific keywords.

Twitter’s ability to target advertising messages, and specifically those related to video, got a big boost when the company acquired Bluefin Labs in February. And eMarketer recently estimated that based on some of its recent moves related to advertising, Twitter’s ad revenue in 2013 could hit $1 billion.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Shutterstock / Eldorado3D

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