Twitter Retargeting: Now On Twitter, Ads Follow You


Twitter will reportedly make just made a big announcement confirming the expansion of the ad retargeting program they began testing this summer. The new offering, dubbed Tailored Audiences, is a logical next step for a network that went public just months ago and now has a lot to prove to investors. But how will Twitter Tailored Audiences work for advertisers?

TechCrunch earlier this morning cited anonymous “sources” confirming the launch, but say the details were hazy. Here’s what we did know:

  • Twitter advertisers will now have access to external data for ad targeting.
  • It’s almost guaranteed that Promoted Tweets will be open to retargeting; whether or not Promoted Accounts are is unknown.
  • Twitter began experimenting with retargeting in July and made it clear users were able to opt out of having their account information shared with Twitter’s ad partners.
  • Pursuant to the last point, Twitter has been working with ad partners, much like Facebook in their FBX development and launch.

Twitter's blog post releases more details and some early stats on the performance of the new retargeting options:

We have seen impressive results from those advertisers in our beta test using the tailored audiences program over several months’ time. Inbound marketing software platform HubSpot was an early beta tester of tailored audiences. By reaching recent visitors to their web properties with Promoted Tweets, Hubspot saw a lift in engagement rates of 45% with tailored audience campaigns over their historical averages.

The post also explains how Twitter users can opt out of the new targeting options in their privacy settings.

Why Twitter Retargeting Matters

We recently published research comparing Facebook and Twitter ads, which showed that Twitter ads have much higher CTRs – up to ten times higher, thanks to their prominent placement in the tweet streams of users. Twitter Ads also appear in-stream on mobile devices, whereas Facebook ads are pushed off to the side and may not even appear on the mobile screen.

twitter ad retargeting

Facebook Ads, however, beat Twitter hands down as far as commercial intent. Clicks from Facebook ads generated more than twice as much revenue in comparison to clicks from Twitter ads – why? It’s because retargeting is one of the most precise ad targeting methods. People are far more likely to buy something that they were already in the market for – it’s the low-hanging fruit for advetisers to go after.

Twitter Retargeted Ads: Coming Soon to a Mobile Device Near You

Twitter was born on mobile – users who primarily access Twitter via mobile are 47% less likely to use Twitter on the desktop than average Twitter users. And unlike Facebook ads, retargeted Twitter ads will appear within the mobile Twitter app.

Historically, ad retargeting hasn’t worked on mobile apps because they don’t leave the trail of cookies in the way Web browsers do. However, Twitter has developed technology that ties the identity of a mobile user logged into the Twitter app to what they do on the computer. This “unified identity layer” is how they’re able to display retargeted ads on mobile. When you log into your Twitter account on a desktop computer, Twitter will analyze the cookies in your browser to see where you’ve been on the non-mobile web. Then, when you log in to that same account on mobile, it can still use your web cookies to hit you with retargeted ads.

Why Twitter Ad Retargeting Is Going to Be a Money-Making Machine

External data could help Twitter refine their ad targeting in a big way by strengthening that commercial intent and giving marketers new metrics to gauge the success of their social advertising performance.

Twitter’s decision to work with established ad partners is a smart one. FBX gives advertisers access to a massive network thanks to their deal with DoubleClick, yet Twitter has made their offering a real player thanks to the established partnerships their partners already have with big brand advertisers. It’s a much faster route to a profitable network than building their own network or purchasing one, as Google has done. Twitter can now just tap into that revenue stream, kick up their feet, and let the money flow in.

twitter retargeting

Clearly, Wall Street insiders love the move and have faith this will bring Twitter – and investors – greater profit, given the movement in Twitter stock this week. You should have bought stock yesterday!

Also on Twitter’s side: It’s unlikely to get much blow-back from online privacy advocates since there is no expectation of privacy on Twitter – it’s inherently public! Facebook, which saw massive growth in part because of its perceived “walled garden” effect, doesn’t have the same advantage.

What do you think of Twitter’s retargeting plans, are you willing to give it a shot?

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Josh Light
Dec 05, 2013

Retargeting is awesome.  I just heard that if you discount your products on Pinterest by 10% then it willautomatically send an email to everyone who pinned the products you discounted.I think all social networks will move towards seems to be the new thing.Josh

Fi Dunphy (
Dec 05, 2013

Wow - this really is exciting, because it's levelling the playing field between Twitter and Facebook in terms of what they offer advertisers. Not only has Twitter now opened up its advertising platform to users with budgets of less than £10k, but they're now allowng them to target users based on whether they've shown interest in the brand! Both updates in very quick succession of one another. Wow.I think that this capability that Twitter has opened up to advertisers is even more interesting than Facebook's Custom and Lookalike Audiences advertising option (which I've written indepth and described in detail how to implement here:, because Facebook's option requires the advertiser to upload a list of either email addresses, phone numbers, UIDs, Mobile Advertiser IDs (iOS IDFAs and Facebook App User IDs) - which the advertiser will have because the users they've collected the data from have committed in some way to the brand by taking action to hand that information over...Whereas Twitter's new advertising option enables advertisers to show their ads to users who have shown intent but not necessarily yet performed a tangible action in the conversion funnel... Therefore Twitter ads *might* help those advertisers snag their users more quickly, amnd thus shortening the conversion funnel by snagging them with exactly what they've been researching. Interesting!Would love to discuss further on Twitter - get in touch! @fidunfi

Jeff Shjarback
Dec 05, 2013

The benefits and users of Retargeting is starting to pick up some serious momentum in a variety of verticals online.  I think this will definitely be a huge benefit to advertising with twitter no matter what business or market you are in as time goes on.

Dec 12, 2013

quote: 'retargeting is one of the most precise ad targeting methods. People are far more likely to buy something that they were already in the market for – it’s the low-hanging fruit for advetisers to go after.'
these lines are simply unbeatable in their universal wisdom.

Akash Agarwal
Jan 03, 2014

It's a nice article. I never heard about twitter retargeting. I have learned comething from this article. Thanks for sharing.

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