The promoted tweets in your Twitter timeline might soon be a little more useful, if only because Twitter plans to use the key words you mention to sell you stuff.
The social network on Wednesday rolled out keyword targeting for advertisers. Companies will rejoice because the new feature lets them market to Twitter users who would be likely to take advantage of an offer or ad.
The example Twitter product manager Nipoon Malhotra gave in a Wednesday blog post announcing the feature was that of a music fan tweeting about her favorite band, who happen to be coming to her city for an upcoming concert. The concert venue could use keyword targeting to run an ad campaign designed for such music fans, showing them promoted tweets with information about the upcoming show and a link to buy tickets.
"Users won't see any difference in their use of Twitter-- we're not showing ads more frequently in timelines, and users can still dismiss Promoted Tweets they don't find relevant," Malhotra wrote. "In fact, we believe users' experiences with ads will improve as a result of this feature as they see more relevant Promoted Tweets."
More relevant Promoted Tweets
Until now, Twitter's Promoted Tweets were somewhat targeted, based on information such as where you live or who you follow. This deeper dive into content-based marketing is slightly discomforting, but perhaps just as beneficial for us Twitter users as for the companies who want our money.
My eyes tend to glaze over when I see ads on my social accounts, because they usually have no bearing on my life whatsoever. In a relationship on Facebook? Engagement ring and diaper ads, galore! Live in San Francisco? Promoted tweet from a vaguely Bay Area-related company!
But keyword targeting offers the hope that, if social networks must incorporate advertising to continue offering free services--which, by all accounts, they do--then those ads will at least be for products or companies or bands that you and I may actually interested in.
Twitter also lags behind Facebook and Pandora when it comes to mobile display advertising, according to an IDC report last week. The research company said Twitter is unlikely to top Facebook "given the very hard time the company seems to have to monetize the service." More targeted marketing may help Twitter turn its advertising revenue around.