Moments Is Twitter’s Best Chance Yet at Saving Its Business
Advertisers are having a Moment moment.
In the past year, Twitter has struggled to find new users and significantly increase its ad revenue. The company has admitted that, yes, its product is confusing; non-users don’t see a need to join nor do they quickly get it if they do. Advertisers meanwhile want to buy ads where they know they’ll reach a lot of the right kind of users. Unlike Facebook, which boasts nearly 1.5 billion users capable of being targeted with extreme precision, Twitter has seemed like a less exciting place to buy ads.
That could soon change with the help of Twitter’s shiny new feature called Moments.
Launched with much fanfare yesterday, Moments reveals the videos, photos, and tweets behind news stories and events as they unfold on Twitter and Twitter-owned products such as Periscope and Vine. Moments are currently being curated by an editorial team at Twitter as well as launch partners such as The New York Times, Getty, and MLB. Users will soon be able to curate their own Moments, too, and the Moments tab is front and center on Twitter’s updated app.
For Twitter, Moments is a way to make its service more accessible. It may attract new users to Twitter. It may mean people will use the platform differently than they have in the past. Either way, advertisers see a boon in Moments’ emphasis on visuals like video clips and photos, its topic-based storytelling, its ability to capture live events, and its slower pace.
“It’s a big deal,” says Chris Tuff, executive vice president and director of business development and partnerships at ad agency 22squared. “They’ve tried to be a little bit of all things to all people following Facebook. But what Twitter is really embracing here is what they really own—it’s real time.”
Moments currently doesn’t have any ads, but Twitter says it will be rolling out sponsored Promoted Moments in the coming weeks. In each topic section, Twitter will include one Promoted Moments in which a brand can curate tweets, the company tells Ad Age. For example, in its sports section, Twitter could include a Promoted Moment from, say, a sporting goods store, which would live for 24 hours alongside Moments about upcoming NFL games. The sponsored Moment would be curated by the brand, including tweets, Vines, and photos—a kind of native advertising.
Tuff says he believes advertisers will think of promoted Moments much like they already think of sponsored hashtags. “Whether you’re tracking the floods happening in South Carolina or a TV show, it’ll become instinctive for people to follow the related Moments,” Tuff says. And that appeals to advertisers hoping to get in front of certain audiences. It also reminds Tuff and others of Snapchat’s ads, another new format advertisers have been clamoring to buy.
“Advertisers activating around a specific event, sponsorship, or product launch will be best positioned to get the most out of Promoted Moments early on because they will need to have enough content related to a specific topic to share over the course of 24 hours,” Taylor Wiegert, the senior planner for UX strategy at the Martin Agency, tells WIRED in an email. “Advertisers who have a story that’s worth telling over the course of 24 hours (like, say, an Apple announcement) with tweets and Vines should consider Moments.”
Although Twitter has not said it has plans for any other kinds of ads, you could also imagine the company selling ad space between swipes in Moments (or, say, after every fifth swipe inside a Moment). Sponsorship of live events such as the Oscars or NBA finals would offer another perfect opportunity for certain brands, especially with the help from Twitter’s live-streaming service Periscope.
‘Very Visual, Very Evocative’
Although what ads on Moments might look like is still an open question, ad agencies are already cautiously optimistic about the new feature’s potential. First and foremost, Moments serves as a kind of user-friendly introduction to Twitter. If Twitter is, in fact, able to entice new users and, perhaps, even bring them into Twitter’s larger ecosystem, it will be a success for advertisers who may want to reach as broad an audience as possible.
“The most exciting part of Moments from an advertising perspective is its potential to get Twitter in front of more people, some of which will create accounts and others who will just want to observe a particular topic and then move on,” Wiegert adds. “More users means more opportunities for advertisers to reach the right ones and create Promoted Moments of their own.”
Moments also functions differently from the typical Twitter stream—and its very visual form is an advantage to advertisers. “It’s full of Vines, tons of Vines, almost exclusively Vines,” Adam Simon, head of strategy at IPG Media Lab, jokes. “But it’s very visual, very evocative, very emotional in a way that when I open my Twitter timeline it’s not, it’s mostly text.
“For advertisers, you always want to associate your brand with positive or exciting emotion. Having that rich visual lets you do that. It also lets you tell better stories.”
Ad agencies are also excited about the way users—assuming Moments attracts them—will interact with Moments. Twitter users typically zoom through tweets, skipping over many of them. They may only see the newest ones at the top of their feed. Moments feels slower, less chaotic, more curated—it’s the magazine to Twitter’s newswire. “It’s more of a story,” says longtime ad exec Dave Zinman, chief operating officer of ad-tech company RadiumOne. “To advertisers that matters. Whether the message is really targeted or not, you still have to get users’ attention. Advertisers will totally pay for a more engaged person.”
That’s not to say that Moments automatically means advertisers will start funneling ad dollars away from Facebook to Twitter just yet. The product is new, and there’s no guarantee that users, new or old, will flock to it. Advertisers will likely wait to see exactly what Promoted Moments look like, what the audience using it is, and how they can target users.
“We’ll want to know what’s open to us from a paid perspective and what types of content are rising to the top. Who’s engaging? What types of consumers? How often are they coming? On mobile? On desktop?” says Matthew Wurst, vice president of social media at ad agency 360i.
“Twitter needs to continue to enhance tools they offer to marketers. Video is a big area for us as advertisers, but it’s still relatively limited in terms of creativity and flexibility.” Vines, for example, can only be 6 seconds maximum in length.
And yet with cofounder Jack Dorsey officially at the helm as CEO—and with the well-liked and ad-savvy Adam Bain as COO—agencies seem to think that Twitter might finally attract more users and advertisers—the lifeblood Twitter needs.
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