Last week Twitter unveiled Moments, a new feature that makes it easier to find the biggest stories and best tweets shared on the platform on any given day.
Wired described Moments as “Twitter’s most important feature ever,” referring to how the new feature might help people who don’t currently understand how to use the platform to finally “get Twitter.” The company’s own execs have been brutally honest about how it needs to simplify the service to deliver Twitter’s value faster in order to attract and retain users. Moments appears to address this very issue, although it’s too early to say how successful it will be.
There’s a commercial element to Moments too. Twitter will be selling “Promoted Moments,” which will look a little like its “Promoted Trends” ads when users first open the Moments tab. When users click through, they will be presented with a curated series of tweets and Vines from the brand about a particular “Moment” – a film premiere, or a sporting event the brand sponsors, for example.
We asked around a dozen brand-side marketers, advertising buyers, and social media strategists about their/their clients’ appetite for Twitter Promoted Moments. Some were excited, others were lukewarm. What was surprising is that for a product that is meant to be Twitter’s savior, if we averaged out the opinions we received, most marketers and agency execs were adopting a neutral, “wait and see” approach, rather than jumping at the chance to get involved.
Twitter declined to comment on this story.
Of course, the real proof of success will be when Promoted Moments launches (it hasn’t yet) and marketers actually start trialing the ad product for the first time. But here’s a cross-section of advertiser opinion ahead of launch.
What we know about Promoted Moments so far
Twitter has been presenting Moments to its marketer and agency partners since the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June.
- Mario Lassnig/Wikipedia Commons
Twitter’s VP of sales Matt Derella described the sell to AdAge: “This is going to be very different than a search text ad. This is going to be videos, images, and should provide a canvas for brands to move people and shift their hearts and minds.”
For now, Twitter plans to run one Promoted Moment a day, but it’s likely that number will increase over time – particularly as Moments expands to other territories. The platform is currently only available in the US.
Twitter will also give Promoted Moments advertisers access to its recently launched live events curation tool, which gives marketers insights such as the size and demographic of the Twitter audience that have talked about a particular event in the past.
The Promoted Moments rollout will be a slow one, with Twitter only planning to trial the advertising product with between five to 10 brands over the next few weeks, before expanding it out widely in the coming months. Business Insider understands that at least one deal with a a large brand has already been signed, but there are others in the pipeline.
Some marketers seem genuinely excited by it
Unfortunately, none of the people we spoke to would confirm whether they had booked a Promoted Moments campaign. But some brand-side marketers were positive about its potential.
Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, tweeted about Twitter’s “big move” shortly after Moments was announced.
Big move. Twitter playing to its strengths as a real-time platform https://t.co/ZINCdo61s0
— Keith Weed (@keithweed) October 6, 2015
One senior marketer at a major consumer packaged goods (CPG) company who asked not to be named (presumably due to ongoing contract negotiations) told us he was “very enthusiastic” by the prospect of the paid-for Promoted Moments offering.
Frito-Lay’s chief marketing officer Ram Krishnan told Business Insider while he hadn’t booked any Promoted Moments campaigns yet, he imagined that would change in the near future. He described his attitude towards Moments as “very positive,” due to the “clever, visual … more find-able” nature of the feature.
Marcus Frost, senior EMEA marketing director at Motorola, told us: “Twitter Moments will allow us to extend and innovate around the the existing Moto experience during big launch announcements, or as part of integrated digital campaigns.”
But most of the people we spoke to were adopting a “wait and see” approach
Most of the ad buyers and agency execs we spoke to said they hadn’t sensed interest from their clients about Promoted Moments so far. However, that is to be expected as no Promoted Moments are live for people to see yet, and Twitter is only experimenting with a handful of brands to begin with.
The general feeling we got from agency execs was that while Moments looks interesting, it isn’t yet clear why there would be a compelling reason to pay for a Promoted Moment just yet. The main issue seemed to be that it’s difficult for an advertiser to create a genuine “moment” themselves
— Twitter (@Twitter) October 6, 2015
One director-level global agency executive told us: “The general sense is that you’d need to be holding quite a big moment/event for it to work. Maybe it’s more relevant for a brand to sponsor a genuine moment than create its own – music awards, Hollywood events – you need a real moment to be happening or else it’s just a weird stream of a brand talking about itself. Maybe big brands like a Coke or something can create their own. But I think there will be caution there, but it’s a great product for consumers I think.”
Another agency director told us: “To be honest, Twitter promotions in general don’t seem to be of that much interest. With a minimal £5,000 ($7,678) spend attached to setting up accounts, clients are preferring to spend smaller, incremental amounts – on Facebook, for example – as opposed to going all in on Twitter. It feels like Promoted Trends all over again. I’m sure the proof will be in the pudding and it’s telling that Twitter is working with publications first [like] The New York Times and Vogue [although these are not Promoted Moments] to get it right. Gripes aside, I do think Moments is a super compelling offering – I just can’t see how brands can build anything there yet.”
Of those agency execs that were willing to speak to us on the record, both said it was “too early to say” whether Promoted Moments will be a success for marketers.
- YouTube/Festival of Media
Dominic Proctor, global president at GroupM, said: “Right now any initiative that gives brands a broader platform and an accountable metric must be applauded . It is too early to say whether this ticks those boxes but experimentation is good news.”
Richard Morris, UK managing director at Vizeum, said: “I think Moments is definitely going to enhance the user experience of Twitter, and mirrors how people search for content. It’s too early to gauge client demand given the nascency of the product, but it instinctively feels like a natural opportunity for brands to drive association with appropriate content.”
Twitter will need more than a “wait and see”
Ultimately, Moments is a product designed to help turnaround Twitter’s stalling user growth – the advertising element seems to be more of a nice-to-have. Financially, Twitter continues to report double digit revenue growth year-on-year, and revenue is expected to grow as much as 11% quarter-on-quarter in Q3.
But, just as Twitter has struggled to communicate the platform’s value to some users, it appears its sales team still has some work to do to convince marketers of the power of its latest ad product. Nobody was saying it will be a flop, and some brand-side marketers did tell us they were excited by the prospect of Moments, but the reaction to the launch seemed notably tepid compared to recent announcements such as when Instagram opened up its advertising API, when Snapchat launched its Discover content section, or when Google announced its “Customer Match” CRM feature.
And, in the long-term, that may prove to be a problem for Twitter at a time when marketers are falling over themselves to snap up the latest ad products from rival digital platforms.
The chart below from eMarketer, for example, shows how Instagram’s US mobile ad revenue could surpass Twitter and Google by 2017 as the photo-sharing app opens up more popular advertising formats and targeting options.