Twitter's Vine and #music - How Can They Work for Advertisers?

Twitters_Vine_and_#music_How_Can_They_Work_for_AdvertisersTwitter has been busy in 2013.First, back in January, they acquired and launched Vine - a 'micro' format video creation, sharing and discovery service integrated with Twitter and other social networks like Facebook.  Brands have leapt enthusiastically on the bandwagon - over 30,000 have taken up the creative challenge of Vine's 6 second format.  Consumers have loved it too, with new genres being created such as the video postcard sent from abroad.Last week, Twitter launched another service - #music - an app designed to help users to discover emerging and popular artists using the activity of Twitter users as a guide.How does it work?  In the words of Stephen Phillips, the founder of We are Hunted (the social music discovery service purchased by Twitter recently), “If you’re interested in the songs that have been tweeted by the artists and people you follow on Twitter, you can navigate to #NowPlaying to view and listen to those songs.  Or if you want to listen to music from the artists Wiz Khalifa follows, you can search for his name using the search icon in the top right corner. Then tap one of the artists you’re interested in.”#music is integrated with iTunes, Spotify and Rdio, so users can play previews of tracks and purchase them via iTunes, and they can integrate their Spotify or Rdio accounts to share their own music and play the full version of tracks they discover using the app.A music discovery app makes perfect sense for Twitter - music is the subject of so many conversations on the network, music celebrities are the most followed (8/10 of the most popular on Twitter) and #nowplaying is amongst the most popular hashtags. But where's the payback in terms of advertising revenues for all that investment?  Twitter won't be able to serve any advertising between tracks because previewing and streaming is happening via 3rd party partners (i.e. iTunes, Spotify and Rdio).   There's an interest for brands beyond the music industry in what their followers are listening to - either to start social conversations, to source 'band' ambassadors or to inform other aspects of their creative strategy, but we're not sure this information, or deeper insight, could ever form the basis of a premium service that brands would be prepared to pay for.Perhaps they will try to build an ad-product into the app – Vevo, myspace, and Spotify all have healthy display ad products - and they;ll no doubt be thinking about testing it. But we believe their long term aim is much more interesting.That aim becomes clearer when looked at in the context of a third initiative launched earlier this month - targeting promoted tweets by keyword.You can already focus your advertising activity on Twitter based on a user's location, mobile device and/or interests. Now you can also target on what they're tweeting. And you can combine that targeting with the other filters already available (location etc) to make your activity super targeted.Many commentators are getting very excited about this new product, labelling it as true 'intent' marketing.  They argue that Twitter could even steal a march on Google as Twitter users may reveal an intent that advertisers can capitalise on before that user gets to the search stage. Some advertisers have already trialed the product and the results seem to be encouraging - camera brand GoPro saw close to 2 million impressions and engagement rates reaching 11% on tweets promoted with the new feature - much higher than Twitter's standard engagement rates which are an impressive 1-3%. It's all part of the long march towards truly personalised marketing, surely?It's certainly exciting but we'd add some provisos.  Can a keyword or phrase, taken out of context, really be used to predict intent?  In Google or Bing they can because we know people are searching for something - but if we're eavesdropping on only part of the conversation, are we going to intervene in an intelligent way?  And how will Twitter users react to a service which can serve ads based on their conversations?  Perhaps they'll take it in their stride because Twitter is a public forum. Perhaps they'll even begin to 'shout out' for relevant promoted tweets, using Twitter as some form of search engine.  Or perhaps they'll find it intrusive? Advertisers will need to carefully consider these points with their agencies before committing.And the rationale behind #music and Vine?  Well, both initiatives share the aim to make people use the service more often and for longer.  The longer they're using it, and the more information they share, the more ads Twitter can serve to them and more targeted those ads can be. Someone sharing Vine postcards often is a frequent traveller - a great target for airlines, hotels and travel companies.Specifically with Vine, we not only have a vehicle for easy creation and sharing of video content for consumers, but also a vehicle for creating cheap and relevant ads for brands. Segmented social, micro TV advertising, delivered on the fly, so to speak.So we're sure we'll see Twitter innovating further before the year is out to further their aim of making Twitter the first social network logged onto each morning. And we expect Twitter's advertising revenues to continue to grow too (they're predicted to double this year) as advertisers pay increasing attention to possibilities that Twitter's full range of advertising products present.How far they grow is the question for Twitter, though.  They have a huge challenge in how to introduce more and more promoted tweets or ad messages without upsetting users. Twitter's simplicity is a double edged sword - it's clearly a huge selling point but if enough consumers were upset with increasing ad presence the next 'Twitter' (whatever that looks like) may not be far behind.