Twitter’s acquisition of mobile ad exchange MoPub came within two weeks of its acquisition of social TV analytics Trendrr and the wide release of lead-generation cards.
These staccato moves, according to one Twitter Ads API partner company, are exactly what Twitter needs to counter Facebook's aggressive pipeline of ad products.
“They’re doing a nice job adding products, but they still haven’t really cracked direct-response or scaled the measurement piece yet, which is an area where Facebook is long ahead of them,” commented Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG Digital. “They allowed us to look at loyalty card data through that partnership with Datalogix, but that was about 30 pilots or so.”
If Twitter ramps up direct-response and measurement for brand advertisers, that will lead to more scale, which Mansell says “will help us grow our spend a lot more.”
Many of the ads API partners agree that MoPub will help facilitate that reach.
“We think this marks the beginning of the next phase of mobile advertising where the advertising experience is seamless and the units are primarily native and incredibly actionable,” noted James Borow, cofounder and CEO of SHIFT. “This will lead to the ability for advertisers to reach users with sequential messaging, gain better insights and ultimately increase their ROI.”
To Voxsup, an API partner company that mines social data to create interest segments for targeting, Twitter is broadening its reach as a publisher.
“If I’m in my Twitter mobile app, of course Twitter can show me an ad, but say I’m in a gaming app, too,” commented Alok Choudhary, founder & CEO of Voxsup. “Twitter doesn’t have the opportunity to show me an ad there today. It’s the mobile exchange that has the opportunity.”
He added, “The good thing about [the MoPub deal] is by doing this, one can start to connect Twitter habits and brand followers to other habits on mobile apps. It makes a bigger persona and you have access to broader behavior. This is the valuable part to us.”
According to Laura O’Shaughnessy, CEO of SocialCode, MoPub’s capabilities extend Twitter’s mobile reach to other sites and applications “in native ways that will make more sense to users” and create more of a seamless buy. “This will presumably boost Twitter’s mobile inventory by a large amount, but more importantly, will let advertisers use Twitter targeting and Twitter ad creative on other sites,” she added.
However, many questions remain unanswered, chiefly – how exactly this will fit in to the broader spectrum of Twitter ads products. Also, “we don’t know how or if Twitter will inject [its own branding] into the ads that run in the MoPub network.”
Another question is around how the API partners will incorporate MoPub into campaign workflows on behalf of clients down the road. One early API partner, Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud, looks at social advertising as one piece of a broader social marketing puzzle as it works on integrating social campaigns with CRM and email marketing with its recent acquisition of ExactTarget.
“The potential with this acquisition means that for the first time, mobile publishers wanting to advertise on Twitter will be able to manage inventory from multiple sources more efficiently,” commented Michael Lazerow, CMO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. “The integration with Twitter’s partners will then allow for a seamless flow of the sales and service processes.”
Another early Twitter Ads API partner, Adobe, says it could foresee adding mobile ad-buying functionality to its Adobe Media Optimizer product “if Twitter enables mobile-specific RTB capabilities through its Ads API,” noted Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff, a group product marketing manager for social ad solutions at Adobe. “The focus on mobile RTB capabilities further validates the channel as a true revenue generation opportunity for advertisers.”
With a number of mobile advertising companies lapping up smaller RTB players (think Millennial Media/Jumptap and Amobee/Gradient X), it would make sense for Twitter to get in on the action while the market’s hot.
“Some of the challenges will be related to connecting the new real-time bidding infrastructure to additional demographic and behavioral targeting information about Twitter users,” noted Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing for partner API company Kenshoo Social.
He added, “This creates opportunities for marketers to close the loop on cross-channel customer engagement and maximize lifetime value.”
Another added challenge is maintaining the user experience. “Twitter knows that it can’t disrupt its user experience more, so it’s going to try to make moves as a company with the purchase of MoPub,” commented Andrew Foxwell, Director of Social at PPC Associates. Twitter wants people to think of its brand when they think “mobile ads.” “In the display world, we have networks, so why can’t that be the same with leftover inventory on mobile?”