Twitter just announced via blog post that it has launched an advertising API, which will allow brands to run ad campaigns through the company’s API partners, rather than having to buy them through Twitter itself.
This confirms a report by TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden saying that Twitter would launch its ads API sometime in the first quarter of this year. At the time, Ingrid noted that Twitter’s ad-buying interface requires you to upload promoted tweets one at a time, an approach that’s unwieldy for large campaigns. She also said that an API creates the opportunity for more sophisticated targeting and tools.
The initial five partners for the program are Adobe, Hootsuite, Salesforce, SHIFT, and TBG Digital. Twitter says it has been testing the API with them since January. We can probably expect that number to increase fairly quickly, and indeed the blog post includes a link to an application for potential partners.
Here’s how Twitter describes the program:
What this means is that as marketers, you’ll soon have the ability to work with our initial set of Ads API partners to manage Twitter Ad campaigns — and integrate them into your existing cross-channel advertising strategies. Equally important, users will continue to see the most relevant Promoted Tweets from advertisers. With the Ads API, marketers now have more tools in their arsenal to help them deliver the right message, to the right audience, on the desktop and on mobile devices — all at scale.
You’ll note that the post also nods towards the importance of preserving Twitter’s user experience. Elsewhere in the post, the company writes, “As interest in Twitter has grown, our focus has been on delivering better ads for users, not more ads.” (That hasn’t stopped some Twitter users to view any ad-related announcement with skepticism.) Nothing in the announcement should lead to immediate changes in the user experience, but one of the main reasons to launch the API is to grow the program, so I’d be surprised if we don’t see more ads at some point. Hopefully the “better” part will hold true, too.
We’ve also reported that Twitter hit $350 million in revenue last year, and that it expects to hit $1 billion sometime in the next couple of years. (There are conflicting reports about the exact timeline.) The Ads API could be an important step towards hitting that goal.
Update: I just spoke with TBG CEO Simon Mansell about his experience testing the API. He said TBG has five clients live or going live on the API, and while he warned against reading too much into early data, he did say that one client saw a 61 percent decrease in cost-per-engagement, while another used the TBG’s API integration for $40,000 in ad spending during the Super Bowl.
Mansell added that he’s particularly excited about how the platform could expand in the future. The first piece, which is what’s available now, focuses on creating “workflow efficiencies,” for example by identifying the best-performing keywords, so that it’s easier to run campaigns on Twitter. Later he plans to add more tools for launching and managing campaigns in real-time, and for measuring the return on investment in those campaigns.
Asked if we can expect to see the proliferation of startups building around the Twitter API, similar to what happened after the launch of Facebook’s Ads API, Mansell said, “I definitely think there will be a lot more companies like us talking about it.” (He also said that building a community around its API was “one of the smartest things Facebook’s done.”)
Adobe, meanwhile, released its own early results, saying that it was able to increase customer’s follower counts by 63 percent and to decrease the cost per follow 60 percent, or approximately $2.