January 5, 2016, 4:13 PM

Twitter’s newest ad unit seeks to get consumers talking

Twitter’s conversational ads make it easier for consumers to share a retailer’s message.

Lead Photo

Retailers looking to get consumers talking about their brand on Twitter have a new tool at their disposal. The social network today launched conversational ads, an ad format that includes call-to-action buttons with customizable hashtags that encourage consumers to interact with the tweet.

When a consumer taps a call-to-action button, the social network’s tweet composer window opens with a pre-populated brand message accompanied by a brand-supplied image or video and hashtag buttons. The consumer can then personalize the tweet and share it with followers.

“For many years, marketers have successfully increased their brand engagement using promoted tweets with compelling images or videos and campaign hashtags that drive retweets, likes and follows,” writes Andrew Bragdon, Twitter’s revenue product manager, in a blog post. “Conversational ads take this a step further by including call-to-action buttons with customizable hashtags that encourage consumer engagement.”

For instance, a coffee retailer might use a conversational ad to pose the question, “Which coffee blend is right for you? Our #HouseBlend or our premium #DarkRoast?” The ad might then include two call-to-action buttons that read “Tweet #HouseBlend” and “Tweet #DarkRoast.” After a shopper taps #HouseBlend, Twitter opens a pre-populated tweet that reads “My favorite Coffee Blend is the #HouseBlend from @baristabar” that includes a link to retailer’s site, along with a brand-supplied video.

Driving shoppers to share is important, Bragdon notes, pointing readers to a 2014 Twitter survey that found that 54% of consumers took action, such as visiting the brand’s website or searching for the brand online, after seeing a Twitter connection tweet about the brand.

The ads are available to select advertisers today. 

In other Twitter news, the social network's CEO Jack Dorsey today hinted that Twitter may soon launch a feature that lets users post tweets that are longer than the social network's traditional 140-character limit. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter,” Dorsey wrote in an image attached to a tweet. “And we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it. Instead, what if that text … was actually text? Text could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That's more utility and power.”

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