December 6, 2013, 9:43 AM

Twitter debuts retargeted ads

Tailored Audiences lets marketers present ads based on users’ actions off Twitter.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Twitter Inc. has begun letting marketers use browser cookies and other information, such as consumers’ e-mail addresses, to retarget shoppers on the social network.

The launch moves ad retargeting on the social network beyond the experimental phase Twitter announced in July.

Twitter says it won’t exchange any personal information about its users with advertisers. It is using “hashing technology,” which takes an e-mail address or other information and converts it into a string of numbers and letters that cannot be reversed to recreate the original information. It then matches up those strings with hashed information provided by marketers.

The tool, called Tailored Audiences, enables a hotel brand, for example, to present a Promoted Tweet ad unit that highlights a deal to a consumer who recently visited the chain’s web site, without Twitter revealing the consumer’s e-mail address or other personal information. To present the offer to Twitter users, the hotel brand would share with Twitter its browser cookie ID list. Twitter would then match that information to its users’ accounts to show consumers on the list a Promoted Tweet featuring the deal. A Promoted Tweet is an ad unit that enables marketers to pay to increase the prominence of a post.

Twitter says that several marketers have generated impressive results while testing the tool. For example, marketing technology vendor HubSpot Inc. boosted the engagement rates of its Promoted Tweets45% over its historical average by using Tailored Audiences to reach recent visitors to its web sites. Similarly, software analytics vendor New Relic increased its average conversion rate for consumers who click from Twitter to its site 195% by using Tailored Audiences to target web site visitors. Twitter and the vendors declined to share the specific engagement or conversion rates.

Marketers have to work with Twitter-approved vendors to use Tailored Audiences. At launch, those vendors are: Adara Media Inc., AdRoll.com, BlueKai, Chango Inc., DataXu Inc., Dstillery, Lotame Solutions Inc., Quantcast, ValueClick and [x+1].

Tailored Audiences is similar to Facebook Inc.’s Custom Audiences tool that the social network launched earlier this year. Facebook also offers tools that let marketers target shoppers who share similar profiles to consumers in Facebook’s Custom Audiences customer segments, as well as to aim ads at shoppers based on offline behaviors. However, unlike Facebook, Twitter lets consumers opt out of targeting that uses third-party data by unchecking a box in their account settings.

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