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The Ultimate Guide to Targeting on Twitter Ads

October 23, 2015 | Mobile Apps, Social Media Advertising, Twitter Marketing

Twitter Ads is gaining popularity as a social media marketing platform, and with relatively high click-through rates, it makes sense as to why.

Twitter Ads, like most social media ad platforms, has a large number of targeting options that marketers can choose from when running ad campaigns. While the large number of targeting options is a definite benefit of the platform, a lot of advertisers can be overwhelmed, especially if they’re new to Twitter Ads; this is especially true considering Twitter is working on updating their ad system, meaning that things sometimes change just as you’re getting used to them.

In this ultimate guide to targeting options on Twitter Ads, we’ll go over all the options you have to choose from, some great uses of Twitter Ads, targeting strategies specifically for mobile ads, and why you should limit targeting options per campaign.

Targeting Options

Twitter’s targeting options are thorough and can be highly customized. They can also be combined, which in moderation can be a huge advantage (we talk more about this later on).

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When you’re choosing your targeting options, you want to be specific enough so that you’re actually reaching your target audience, while not getting so specific that you start excluding portions of your target audience for that campaign. To keep an eye on this and monitor your potential reach, you can monitor the blue box found on the right hand side of the targeting options, which gives you a summary of your targeting options and an estimated audience size.

  • Location: You can narrow down your targeting to countries, states/regions, metro areas, or postal codes. You have the option to import multiple locations to target (i.e., three different zip codes).
  • Gender: The default targeting is “all genders,” but you can choose to target only men or women
  • Languages: Target users by the languages they speak; you can choose only one, or add as many as you’d like.
  • Devices, carriers, and platforms: You can target users based on the specific devices, carriers, and/or OS systems they use. You can also target new device owners, choosing to show your ad to those who have logged in to Twitter on a new device in the past 1-14 months, depending on personal preferences.
  • Keywords: This gives you two great options. You can target users and searches who tweeted a certain keyword or phrase of your choice (such as “hiking” or “The Blacklist”). You can then decide if you want to target a broad match, a phrase match, or to target those who don’t utilize the specific keywords. You can learn more about this here.
    The second option you can utilize is to exclude users and searches in your targeting that have used the keyword negatively.

ultimate guide to twitter ads targeting

  • Followers: This targeting section also gives you several options. The first is that you can choose to target similar users to the ones who follow a certain account.
    This section also gives you the ability to add or remove your current followers from your targeting, as well as to specifically target users that are similar to your current followers.
  • Interests: Target users who have a set interest. Twitter has an enormous list of interests that you can choose from, and you have the option to browse interests if you’re unsure of what you want to choose specifically.

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  • Tailored Audiences: Following the same idea as Facebook’s Custom Audiences and Website Custom Audiences, these options allow you to either upload a list of specific customers you know and want to reach (think an e-mail list, those who have purchased from you, etc.), or to target users who have visited, downloaded from, or purchased from your website, tracked via a snippet of tracking code. Finally, you can track users who have installed, registered, or taken a certain action regarding your mobile app.
  • TV Targeting: This unique targeting feature allows you to target users who watch a certain television show, network, or genre, or users who fit into a certain type of TV market.
  • Behaviors: Similar to the interests section, you can target users based on their behaviors—both on and offline, thanks to third party data providers. You can choose to target those who are likely to dine at casual restaurants, for example, or those who are Easter candy buyers, or allergy sufferers. This can get incredibly specific, and depending on who you’re trying to reach, incredible useful.
  • Event Targeting: Target people who are interested in a certain event, such as Black Friday, a movie release, a political debate, or the Super Bowl.
  • Excluding tailored audiences: You can use your lists of tailored audiences to exclude them from the targeting of your next ad campaign.
  • Excluding behaviors: Exclude users who have certain behaviors from your campaign.

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Great Uses for Targeting on Twitter

While you can run a variety of campaigns on Twitter with the ambition to accomplish any objective and goal you can dream up (Twitter even has a “Custom” objective), there are a few uses of Twitter Ads that can have exceptionally great results when used with the correct targeting.

Two non-mobile specific examples include:

  • Remarketing: Remarketing with Twitter Ads is made easy thanks to Tailored Audiences, both those from custom lists and those you can pull from website visits or purchases. Being able to reach out to customers who added items to their cart but didn’t convert, for example, is a powerful tool that can give those users the push they need to actually purchase. Similarly, you can create ads to show to your blog readers to either try to convert them to customers, or show them new blog posts you want to feature.
    Twitter’s tailored audiences—like Facebook’s Custom audiences—can be incredibly powerful when used well.
  • Sales: One of the most common underlying reasons people take to marketing, sales are a great motivator to run Twitter Ads campaigns. Popular targeting options to increase sales include custom audiences (as seen above, which can be tied in with highly-targeted messages), keywords, behaviors, and interests. If, for example, you have a local restaurant, and you target based on location and the behavior of “likely to dine out,” you could connect with a great target audience. Knowing your audience, what they have in common, and how to best connect with people looking to buy will help increase sales.

Twitter Targeting for Mobile Ads & Mobile App Installs

Twitter Ads can be shown to users using mobile devices, and while all campaigns can do well on mobile, perhaps the best specific use of mobile ads comes with the objectives to increase mobile app downloads, installs, and engagement. The objectives to “App Installs” or “App Engagement” will allow users to open or download an app right from the tweet, and you can carefully track the metrics of what happens next.

When you’re looking to increase installations or engagement on your mobile app, there are a few great targeting options to consider (after you choose app installs or re-engagement as your objective for the campaign). Some of these options include:

  • Targeting by Device/OS system: It makes sense to target users based on their device and/or operating system when you’re looking to increase engagement or installation of your apps. There’s no point in showing your new app that only works on Apple devices, after all, to Android users. Targeting based on the device and OS system can help you ensure you’re only reaching users who can actually use your app.
  • Targeting New Device Owners: New device owners are great to target when looking to increase installation of your apps through mobile ads; they’ve just gotten a new phone or tablet, and they have room on it for new apps, and they’re excited to use the device. You can target users as new as 1 month, or as old as 14 months, depending on your preference.

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  • Installed App Categories: In order to be able to see this as a targeting option, you need to choose an objective involving mobile apps. This targeting option allows you to target users who have either installed or shown interest in certain categories of apps, such as “food and drink,” “health and fitness,” and “sports.” By targeting audience members who are already interested in the type of app you’re presenting, you’re a lot more likely to increase installations.

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  • Tailored Audiences: If someone has downloaded your app, there’s a good chance you may have gotten their e-mail or other contact information in the process. When you’re looking to increase engagement, you can run highly-targeted and very specific campaigns to those who have installed your app already. Similarly, when looking to increase installs, you can target relevant audience members but exclude those in a tailored audience who have already downloaded your app.

Why You Should Limit Your Targeting Options 

When it comes to targeting, having a large variety of options is fantastic. While you want to take advantage of those options, you also want to limit the number you use per campaign.

A common mistake people make with Twitter Ads is to start combining all types of accounts (many of which will fit into different categories) and as many targeting options as possible into one single campaign.

This is an error for two reasons. The first is that your targeting may become so specific in so many categories that you actually start to accidentally exclude a large amount of your target audience.

The second, which has much more serious long term ramifications, is that when targeting options are all used at once, you won’t be able to determine what option(s) specifically are providing the results. If you keep targeting options separate (or at least limited) per campaign and take note of the results with split testing, you’ll be able to see what is affecting your campaigns and how, giving you more information to create more successful campaigns in the future.

Final Thoughts

Twitter Ads is picking up steam with recent updates to their system and interface; their targeting options are now better than ever, and it’s likely they’ll continue to improve. Whether you’re running a remarketing campaign or looking to increase sales, Twitter Ads has a variety of targeting options to help you get the conversions you want to see.

What’s your favorite targeting strategy for Twitter Ads? How do you use their Ads system? Leave us a comment and let us know!

James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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