So, last month Twitter announced £86m losses up to Q2 of 2014 – triple their losses for the same period last year, but supposedly there is no cause for panic. CEO Dick Costolo, claimed: “strong financial and operating results for the second quarter show the continued momentum of our business”.
It would appear the old adage; ‘you have to spend money to make money’, is key here. Although it is undeniable that Twitter has become one of the most influential mediums of the 21st century, it has yet to become profitable. The ‘build a hugely popular social network that millions of people across multiple nations use every day – get companies to use it to talk to those people – then start charging them to promote their messages’ business model adopted by Facebook first, has been coming to fruition for over 4 years now for Twitter.
The little blue bird first launched its ads API in April 2010, but in a rather risky move chose to adopt a more elitist approach than Facebook. For several years the rule of thumb was – ‘if you ain’t got £10k to spend in a month then don’t bother calling!’ – Considering Twitter was a completely unproven advertising platform at the time this model was ill-thought-out at best.
Perhaps the justification was that they wanted to test the water with the great few first to make sure it was effective before rolling it out to all and sundry. Fair enough you might say, but why did it take almost 4 more years to open up their advertising products to the wider businesses community?
In 2012, Twitter announced that selected small businesses could advertise with them in the US, providing they were American Express business customers. Again presumably a phase that would allow them to test the limits of their features with less risk. But this was a restricted set up that gave small businesses little control over what was being promoted from their content.
Finally in November 2013, Twitter announced that its full access, self-serve advertising dashboard was available for all businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada. Since then they have been developing a host of sophisticated products to get digital marketers drooling – such as mobile conversion tracking, lookalike profiles and lead generation cards. No surprise this launch was announced right around the time Twitter was floated on the stock market. And even less surprising that Twitter’s ad products team seem to have been doing some major overtime since then. Seems like Mr & Mrs Shareholder are cranking up the pressure.
So, it’s taken a long time for Twitter to decide that an inclusive approach to its ad products and giving their customers plenty of control was the way to go, now they just need to spread the word and turn a profit.
You’d think that Twitter would be good at self-promotion, after all they own a medium that has 271 million active monthly users, 49% of which check it every day. Yet as a leading digital and social media agency in the Midlands, after speaking to our peers and clients, we were amazed to discover how few marketers were aware that this service was now available for any British business or organisation to utilise, no matter how small their budget. This of course wasn’t helped by certain global media buying agencies still telling our clients that to run a Twitter ad campaign you need a minimum £7k spend within one month! I can happily reveal that we can manage Twitter advertising campaigns from as little as a few hundred pounds for our clients. The word is out.
So Twitter, if you need some help PRing your new adverts dashboard in the UK, then give us a call or tweet us @wpragency. Alternatively, maybe you should use Promoted Trends to share the news, you’ll probably get a good discount!