I have been experimenting a bit with promoting my software using promoted tweets. You can target people based on their interests or the Twitter handles they follow. I have chosen the latter approach with the aim of getting people to a) click through to my website and b) retweet (in the hope of more click throughs).
The results haven’t been great, with only 25% of the ‘engagements’ I paid for resulting in clicks through to my website. Here is a direct comparison between traffic from AdWords and Twitter ads to my seating planner software website (data from Google Analytics).
|Av. pages visited||3.10||1.48|
|Av. time on site||1:51||0:40|
Ouch. Then factor in that the Twitter traffic cost me 2.5 times as much per click through as the AdWords traffic. Double ouch. But that’s fine. You have do lots of experiments to find out what works. Most of them won’t be successful. This experiment only cost me £150.
However I was a bit puzzled by the ‘interests’ report from Twitter. Here are the top 10 ‘interests’ of the people that were shown my sponsored tweet, as reported by Twitter ads.
Bear in mind that I was targeting various Twitter handles related to the events and wedding industry for Twitter users in the UK, USA and Canada. According to the report:
- 72% of them are interested in ‘Politics’.
- 69% of them are interested in ‘Hip hop and rap’.
- 62% of them are interested in ‘NFL football’.
- ‘Weddings’ is way down the list at number 55 with 15%, between ‘Leadership’ and ‘Dogs’.
Hmm, something is a bit fishy here.
I ran some more campaigns to promote my UK training course for people who want to create commercial software products. The ticket price for my course is higher than for my seating planner software, so I thought it was worth persevering a bit more with Twitter ads. Here are the top 10 ‘interests’ for the 3 campaigns I ran.
Bear in mind that this time, I was targeting various Twitter handles related to software development, marketing and entrepreneurship for Twitter users in the UK. We love our comedy in the UK and most of us could stand to lose a few pounds. But I can confidently state that the vast majority of people in the UK know almost nothing about NFL (American) football and care even less. ‘Computer programming’ and ‘Startups’ were waaay down all 3 lists.
We infer interest from a variety of signals, like the accounts users follow and the Tweets they engage with.
I emailed them to point out that the interests seemed to be highly suspect, but I didn’t get a substantive reply.
I can only conclude that either Twitter isn’t doing a very good job of the targeting or (more likely) it really doesn’t understand the interests of its customers and is doing a very poor job at guessing. Consequently I would urge you to be very wary of paying for promoted tweets on the basis of ‘interests’.
If you have not seen it, watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag
“Facebook Fraud”. Basically there a people gaming the social networks with bots and click fraud. They click on anything to avoid detection. This makes buying ads on these platforms a fools errand.
The ad provider gets paid for the incorrect clicks as well as the correct ones. They have very little incentive to fix the problem of fraud.
The uniformity of these interest lists makes me think “bots”. I wonder what proportion of all these promoted tweets are being shown to machines instead of people. Without access to twitters server logs, there’s no way of knowing how well they’re filtering out traffic from systems behaving like people.