Twitter has announced a pretty substantial change to its Promoted Tweets ad product — it seems subtle, but it fundamentally changes what a Twitter ad is.
In a nutshell, Twitter advertisers no longer have to publish a standard tweet that’s visible to all followers before it becomes a Promoted Tweet. They can now specifically create ads and target Twitter users via the existing options available in the Promoted Tweets program — including geographic targeting and mobile vs. desktop targeting.
Twitter’s been testing this with companies like British Airways, which showed this ad only in the United Kingdom.
Prior to this launch, a Promoted Tweet was, first and foremost, an actual organic/natural tweet that first had to be posted to all of a company’s followers. After that, it could be turned into a Promoted Tweet.
That’s no longer the case. Advertisers can now create specific ads and target certain groups of users without first having to publish a tweet to all followers. It sounds like a subtle difference, but it’s a fundamental change in how advertisers can reach consumers on Twitter.
To encourage companies to make sure their targeted ads still look and act like regular tweets, Twitter says it will reward Promoted Tweets that resonate the most with users — those ads “are likely to appear more often.”
All Twitter advertisers that use Promoted Tweets have immediate access to the new targeting option.
Postscript: The article above was edited after the fact to correct the use of the word “followers” in describing who sees Promoted Tweets. In fact, Promoted Tweets may appear to Twitter users that are not following an advertiser. Twitter displays Promoted Tweets to users based on internal calculations of which users will find the ad most relevant.