Twitter Is an "Interest Network," Says Twitter Exec

NEW YORK—Marketers are "no longer planning campaigns for the future, they're adapting them to the moment," maintained Twitter's director of sales marketing, Shane Steele, who kicked off day two of Social Media World Forum North America. "People are moving quickly and they want to connect with what's most relevant right now."

In terms of serving as a marketing tool, Twitter—which has approximately 140 million active monthly users—has become increasingly aggressive about positioning itself as a tool that allows brands to reach consumers in real time.

"Twitter connects you to things you care about. We think of Twitter as more of an interest network instead of a social network," Steele said.

Brands, argued Steele, are also getting better at joining online conversations as they're happening, and pointed to PBS' response to Mitt Romney's comment about Big Bird during a presidential debate and mobile telecommunications provider O2's response to a customer's complaint as examples.

In terms of mobile ads, eMarketer predicts Twitter will beat its rival Facebook in mobile ad revenues for this year. The research firm estimates Twitter will pull in $129.7 million in mobile advertising revenues in the U.S., while Facebook, which introduced mobile ads for the first time this year, will earn just over half that amount, at $72.7 million in the US.

EMarketer also recently hiked up its estimate of Twitter's worldwide ad revenue for 2014 to $807.5 million—a 50 percent increase from earlier this year—in response to the enhanced advertising products, such as a self-serve ad platform and targeting features that Twitter has rolled out.

Despite its healthy ad revenues, not all companies are convinced that paid advertising on Twitter is worthwhile, however. "We often hear brands say 'I don't need to use the paid products,'" Steele said. "What we're saying is that when you turn on the promoted products, you're going to get more free results as well."

As for IBM's Black Friday report, which reported Twitter as delivering zero percent of referral traffic and Facebook contributing just 0.68 percent, Steele declined to comment on the basis that IBM did not reveal details behind the methodology of the report.


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