Twitter advertisers can now target their promotions based on gender. This type of targeting join the existing mobile, geographic and interest-based targeting options already available.
Gender targeting may sound a bit strange since Twitter users don’t have to declare if they’re male or female anywhere in the account settings, but Twitter says that it’s confident the science behind the new targeting is strong.
Similar to our approach to interest targeting, we’re able to understand gender by taking public signals users offer on Twitter, such as user profile names or the accounts she or he follows. We have strong confidence in this approach. A panel of human testers has found our predictions are more than 90 percent accurate for our global audience. And where we can’t predict gender reliably, we don’t — and those users won’t be targetable through this feature.
That last line is interesting. It might mean that folks named Chris, Terry or Pat — a few of the many non-gender-specific names — might not see gender-targeted ads.
Or maybe they will.
Edwin Chen, a data scientist at Twitter that led the effort to create the new gender classifier, hinted in a tweet today that Twitter might be looking past profile names and accounts that a user follows. It could also separate boys and girls based on the kinds of tweets we send; i.e., “My tummy hurts” is a common girl phrase, and “What a comeback!” is a common boy thing to say.
— Edwin Chen (@echen) October 26, 2012
I’m not certain if the gender-based targeting has fully rolled out to all advertisers yet. I don’t see an option for it in my advertising dashboard. Then again, I also don’t see an interest-based targeting option, and that’s been around for a couple months … so I may not have a full-featured advertising account.