Column: Twitter is finally going public. Now what?
September 17, 2013 | Jeff Quipp | Comments
Whether you applaud the news of Twitter’s initial public offering or raise a skeptical eyebrow, chances are you can’t help but wonder what it will mean for marketers and consumers. This is game-changing news as far as marketing is concerned, because it opens up a brand new world of opportunities.
It could mean anything from targeting ads based on interests expressed in a user’s Twitter stream to expanding purchase by tweet initiatives (like its work with AmexSync). There are practically limitless possibilities where this could all go.
Going public means that profitability is going to be foremost on everyone’s mind – meaning that the 7-year old microblogging network is going to have to step up their game. And by going from a social tool to an advertising platform, they’re also going to have to innovate in ways that serve to justify a company’s ad spend.
Twitter has already shown that in-stream ads are an effective way to communicate marketing messages to mobile consumers. If their recent acquisition of Trendrr is any indication, there are definitely some exciting marketing plans in the works. Trendrr is a company that tracks social media engagement with TV content. Its acquisition goes hand-in-hand with Twitter’s recently announced feature that will give advertisers the ability to show ads to users who have recently watched their TV commercials.
MoPub is another name that points to Twitter’s plans for monetization. It is a mobile ad exchange company that helps place ads on mobile apps. Twitter acquired it on Sept. 9. Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg. We can certainly expect Twitter’s acquisition rate to increase.
Overall, the marketing possibilities on Twitter are set to blow wide open. This could take personalized, real-time marketing to an entirely different level. Marketers will be able to take their messaging from the more public first screen of TV to the personalized second screen of Twitter, interweaving the messaging in a way that translates as being inherently relevant to each user. It’s a brave new world.
If going public means that Twitter will no longer be a relatively ad-free space, you can pretty much count on a measure of user backlash. But because Twitter is so tightly engrained in everyday life, this backlash is likely to be little more than a blip on the radar. The issue of privacy may also become a hot button once again as Twitter looks to monetize the information of its users.
Despite these obstacles, however, Twitter has a rare advantage with its IPO. This is one of those situations when not being first is better. It had the opportunity to watch Facebook go public with much scrutiny and criticism back in 2012. From the look of things, it would appear that Twitter has learned a thing or two from Facebook’s mistakes, and is holding its cards close by keeping details of the IPO largely confidential. The idea seems to be that they want to manage expectations, since over-inflated anticipation was what led to Facebook’s troubles.
There will be no shortage of commentary on Twitter’s fortunes over the coming weeks, but for marketers, it’s simply a matter of waiting for the big day to arrive.
Jeff Quipp is the founder and CEO of Search Engine People, Canada’s largest digital marketing firm, which has been on the Profit 100 ranking of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies for the past five consecutive years.