Four years since launch and with a substantial user base, social networking and micro blogging site, Twitter, has perhaps learnt the trick of making money. Only recently, Twitter had announced its new advertising model by launching the first phase of ‘Promoted Tweets’, which are ordinary tweets that businesses and organisations want to highlight to a wider group of users. However, the Indian market is waiting to see how the West fares with this new model and whether this model would put off users.
Anurag Gupta, Managing Director, DGM India, explained, “Brands can now advertise through promoted messages (tweets) on search pages. These 140 character messages will look like normal user generated tweets but will be labelled as ‘promoted’. Users will have the choice of replying , forwarding retweeting etc. What is also of interest that Twitter has introduced a metric called ‘resonance’, that takes into consideration user’s acceptance by measuring retweets, clicks etc. With this metrics, Twitter will decide the ad prominence and frequency with which they will show such ads.”
What’s in it for the Indian market?
According to Sandeep Singh, Business Head, Quasar, “It’s a global platform, not very relevant right now to Indian advertisers. Even if it has the capability to target ads to Indian users, the number will be too small right now to be relevant to Indian advertisers.”
Sanjay Dhar, Founder and COO of Integrid Media Pvt Ltd, observed, “India has been a little slow in warming up to new developments in digital advertising historically, so my estimate is that the Indian market will wait to see how this model works for Twitter in the West before trying it out.”
Rammohan Sundaram, Founder, CEO & Managing Director, Networkplay.in, said, “I for one believe that paid content as a model, whether through micro-blogging or through advertorial, is not a model that actually reflects that well, unless orchestrated in a blended pictorial model for any brand. Therefore, to me it’s a universal situation, however, in a Tweeted format, it might be different simply because of the environment the delivery is happening. But still, unless contextual in nature, it will not work if someone is measuring pure-play traditional performance, which is CPC or CPL as a model.”
So, how can brands approach this new model?
Gupta of DGM India highlighted, “Advertisers should not use Tweeting for conveying a brand message in a conventional manner but should use them for contests & other user engagement ideas.
He further said, “Promoted tweets feature could be used by any kind of Brand –Consumer electronic brands, service brands, restaurants, etc. One thing should be noted that unlike traditional advertising, this involves lot of user participation to be successful, hence all communication should be made keeping the users in mind.
According to Dhar, “Once again, that will depend on the brand. Right now, it seems more like engaging in regular conversations with existing clients and increasing brand affinity with them, which will be the main deliverable that brands will expect.”
Singh of Quasar highlighted, “They have to think through right messaging to which Twitter users will respond back or re-tweet. A Twitter user is a highly evolved Internet user, so regular paid advertising messages of getting a home loan or credit card won’t work. It has to be informative or engaging.”
Sundaram pointed out, “The point is whether brands want to keep talking positively about their attributes when a huge set of audience is talking negatively about the same in an environment like Twitter. However, the flip-side to this is you have a set of cream audience whom you as a consumer are following or being followed, which only redefines the ability of reaching guaranteed affluent audience, both on the move in a mobile environment or on the desk in a web environment. Therefore, the robust targeting capability might attract brands in a big way.”
Can it put off users?
Singh of Quasar stressed, “Yes, I believe it will, if the message is not tailormade to cut ice with an evolved audience like that of Twitter’s. The advantage is if the message cuts ice with Twitter users than the very nature of the product will make the message spread very quickly.”
Rammohan Sundaram of Networkplay.in opined, “I don't think it will put off the user because of the constant updates of tweets that are happening if you are having a huge following or if you are following a huge base. But the scare of losing a communication during a session is high, and so measurements of involvement of a consumer would be the key and any performance-based advertising might be a disaster for all you know.”
According to Sanjay Dhar of Integrid Media, “That fear is a constant challenge with all social networking sites. Most people use social networking sites to share many things, which they consider private, and subjecting them to advertising would appear intrusive to many. Twitter will have to do what they have committed – keep treading gently, testing and testing until they figure out what does not upset their users.”
Anurag Gupta of DGM India felt, “As of now, personally one doesn’t see any reason why it should put off the users. However, this is something that will get clear over a period of time. The advantages of advertising are immense as they can deliver very quick responses. A user doesn’t need to be logged in to get updates, they can get these on various devices and forms - mobile phones, through APIs, RSS readers etc..”
While the new advertising model may be a global platform, India is taking some time adopting the new developments in digital advertising. There is another school of thought, which believes that India would rather wait and see whether this new advertising model delivers for the western markets.