Thursday, August 02 07:27:29
If the millions of Olympics-related tweets flooding the Internet in recent days are a measure of Twitter's popular appeal, the company's big presence in London also signals something else: its arrival as a major player in the world of big-time brand advertising. In sharp contrast to Google, which initially built its businesses mostly by persuading thousands of small companies to buy "direct response" ads, Twitter's emerging strategy focuses on selling elaborate brand campaigns to major marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co and Verizon Communications . The Olympics have presented a prime opportunity for Twitter to position itself as a new media channel that complements TV broadcasts - and carries the big-name ads to match.
"We can service the very biggest brands in the marketplace," Adam Bain, the company's president of revenue and key advertising strategist, said in a recent interview. "The conversation that's happening on TV, or happening live is also happening on Twitter. That's very valuable." Courting major brands is an unusual play for a six-year-old company that private investors value at more than $8 billion but has yet to prove its financial viability. It often takes years to persuade the biggest advertisers to try a new publication or TV show, much less a completely new medium that requires a different creative approach.
The challenge is evident in Facebook's fitful efforts to woo marketers such as General Motors, which jolted the social network by pulling back from paid ads just before Facebook's IPO in May. GM and Facebook are now talking again, and Facebook recently began a boot camp at its Menlo Park campus where marketers can meet with engineers to collaborate on ad campaigns. But as of 2011, brand campaigns still accounted for less than 40 percent of Facebook's $3.7 billion in revenue, according to estimates by eMarketer. Even Google, which revolutionized direct response ads by showing them next to search results and has reaped huge profits in the process, has not fully cracked the code when it comes to big brands. But the advertising giants say their early experiments with Twitter have shown remarkable results.
Consider the case of PepsiCo, which spent $640 million in 2011 on marketing, according to Kantar Media. Beginning late last year, about a dozen Twitter staffers led by Bain flew to PepsiCo's offices in Purchase, New York, for a series of brainstorming sessions. Armed with data gleaned from Twitter chatter, the two companies drew up a plan to use Twitter as a centerpiece for a massive rebranding campaign, "Live for Now," that tied the soft drink to pop music stars and played up its youth appeal.
As the campaign unfurled in June, Pepsi rolled out a series of music videos on its Twitter page based on which artists were most discussed on Twitter, and doled out downloads for hit songs. In late June, Pepsi threw a Katy Perry concert in Hollywood that was live-streamed within a tweet on Pepsi's Twitter page. The company also paid Twitter to boost the reach of select "promoted tweets," which garnered 68 million impressions in one day. ( C) Reuters