Twitter's Newest Metric: the Awareness Objective

Social media’s role in advertising has evolved enormously in a very short time, most notably with the ad products that emerge to address shifts in consumer behavior. These behavior-driven product launches and iterations also change the way we measure success and performance. From the number of likes, favorites, retweets, website clicks, seconds of video watched, impressions, and so forth, we’re often chasing one shiny, new metric after the next. Some say that this is because the platforms are still struggling to prove their value and find ways of measuring success beyond last-click ROI. Here at iProspect, we believe that the changing consumer behaviors and emerging media naturally create a need for new, more relevant success metrics.

Following the trend, Twitter recently launched a new metric called the Awareness Objective, which arrives on the heels of Facebook’s Brand Awareness Objective, which launched last year. Twitter’s newest metric focuses on optimizing ads toward qualified impressions by taking into consideration the amount of time a user spends with an ad unit. (In other words, “dwell time.”) This seeks, in most cases, to replace the metric of engagements as a proxy for brand metrics.

Based on years of research, by not only Facebook but also Nielsen and others, advertisers have started to realize that, contrary to earlier beliefs, social media engagements do not correlate to brand success metrics like ad recall, favorability, or purchase intent. Knowing this, bidding or optimizing based on metrics that focus on the number of likes, retweets, and favorites is an approach that no longer aligns with brand objectives. Most of the brands that cite awareness, recall, or favorability as their objectives, are now more focused on obtaining a larger number of unique users who are wiling to spend more time with their ads.

Twitter’s new Awareness Objective offers advertisers a more suitable buying method for initiatives that are geared toward reaching a large number of unique users. When using this objective, advertisers can better maximize campaign reach, limit frequency, and buy on a CPM basis. This was an important move for Twitter since, until now, their CPMs have typically been significantly higher than those of other social platforms.

So what does this mean for you as a marketer?

This new method is best suited for campaigns that focus more on cost of reach than cost per action (i.e., CPE or CPV). With this objective, bids can target the desired CPM and the platform will auto-optimize to deliver unique reach within your target audience at the most efficient rate. As the advertiser, you also have the option to optimize toward max potential reach or reach plus a secondary KPI of engagements. Since the nature of the Twitter platform is more conversational and interactive than Facebook, we believe engagements on Twitter are still an important secondary KPI for certain campaigns. 

When considering this new buying method for your Twitter initiatives, it's important to clearly define your goals. Keep in mind that when selecting the buying method, some choices are made at the expense of other metrics. Because you can only optimize toward one objective at a time, optimizing toward awareness will likely mean a higher CPV or CPE and vice versa. For example, let’s say you are running an ad for a new product and you want to get as many people to see it as possible so they start to recognize the logo, the colors, and the product itself. In this case, the Awareness Objective is the way to go.

If, however, you are running Conversational Ads, which are intended to drive discussion on a particular topic, you should optimize toward engagements (CPE) so that the focus is on driving interactions with the ad unit. If you’re running a video ad with the objective of reaching a large audience, but your first priority is to maintain the most efficient cost per view, the CPV buying method is still the right choice.

Bottom line: the Awareness Objective is ideal for campaigns in which the primary goal is to achieve the lowest CPM – highest reach at the most efficient cost – so if this is your goal, this buying method will quickly become your new best friend.

As social media research is evolving and our understanding of what both users and advertisers want from social media is becoming more apparent, the platforms are continuing to advance their technology and expand their offerings. Since there are a handful of established social platforms with a constant influx of new platforms trying to break through, the fierce competition pushes each player to evolve at a rapid pace and consistently offer the most unique products. This arms race highlights the enormous opportunity for growth on social media platforms as the platforms become more and more intelligent.  

Brittany Richter, National Director, Paid Social, also contributed to this blog post.