Twitter ads can give campaigns an edge, but at what price? 

Twitter is facing increased competition for campaign ad dollars, but it remains one of the top platforms for political messaging. Peter Greenberger, the site’s Washington sales director, is tasked with convincing candidates to pony up for its advertising options. But with candidates drawing large followings already, are they worth it? Greenberger makes the case.

C&E: Why should campaigns advertise on Twitter?

Greenberger: Politics this cycle, for the first time, is in real time. When a Twitter storm erupts, or when an issue breaks on Twitter, or off Twitter, it ends up driving the conversation and campaigns understand that you have to be there first in order to guide that conversation.

The ads are relatively new. We’re seeing great adoption with campaigns. I think it’s for a couple reasons. Twitter provides an amazing opportunity to reach influentials: reporters, elected officials, campaign staffers, engaged citizens all across the country and the world. So if you want to reach the people who matter, the chattering classes, the people who affect the conversation and the debate, then you really want to be active on twitter.

And the third reason I think is the engagement. We have seen tremendous engagement specific to our ad products. So across the board we see 1 to 3 percent engagement, and that’s akin to a click-through rate more or less. Whereas a typical display campaign on the Internet is closer to .05 percent so you’re seeing many, many multiples higher engagement on Twitter. So if campaigns want to move fast, if they want to reach the right audience and they want to get engagement, Twitter is a great place to advertise.

C&E: What are some of the various options for how campaigns can use these ads?

Greenberger: There’s the “who to follow” suggestions. The top one is generally an ad and what were doing is we are seeking out users who we think might be interested in that particular account based on their interest graph -- who else they follow, what do they tweet about, what’s in their profile, who follows them. So the promoted accounts is a cost-per-acquisition. Campaigns only pay when someone actually follows, so it’s a great way to ramp up your support if you’re looking to grow your audience. If you’re looking to find more people who might ultimately contribute to your campaign, or volunteer, or even vote, promoted accounts is a great tool.

The second product is promoted tweets. Promoted tweets enable you to turbo boost your organic tweets to make sure people see them. And essentially what it does is it pins them to the top of the timeline of your followers or people who look like your followers. Obviously people have been using promoted tweets to get people to sign petitions to raise money, or take other actions, to download a video or download a campaign information sheet.

Another way people are using it is through broadcast. Let’s say you’re running a television ad in a certain area. There are a lot of people using two screens when they view. There are a lot of people who are not watching television as much anymore. So what people have done is use promoted tweets to send out those advertising messages.

C&E: Can you use Twitter advertising locally?

Greenberger:  Yes, you can currently target by media market and we expect zip code targeting to come online in the next few months. 

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