Digital Advertising

Twitter: ‘third party attribution through Google's Doubleclick will allow us to get credit along the entire path’

By Seb Joseph | News editor

September 18, 2015 | 5 min read

Twitter thinks direct response advertising budgets will flow once its deal with Google’s Doubleclick is in place, although the partnership is some way off delivering third-party attribution.

The micro-blogging concedes it hasn’t provided advertisers with the independent verification they crave in order to part with their budgets. If someone on Twitter chooses not to buy a product after being served an ad, it gets no attribution for having built the brand awareness of that product or them buying it days later.

It’s why the deal with Doubleclick was struck in July, to have third-party attribution from Google that spans the entire customer journey. But getting this feedback is not just a simple case of flicking on a switch; there needs to be a certain amount of volume and a certain amount of data to be able to compete with other platforms that have been on there for years.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2015 Technology Brokers Conference this week, Twitter’s chief financial officer Anthony Noto said: “Third party attribution will allow us to get credit for things we do, not at the point of sales, but along the entire path.

“And so third-party measurement is a key gating factor for a direct response business both in terms of bringing on new advertisers really skilled deal advertisers, but also continue to prove to our return on investment maybe better than others and I will give you one example.”

It couldn’t be a more topical time to discuss measurement. Both Unilever and WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell have used this week's Dmexco conference to turn the screw on media owners to improve measurement, while Facebook bowed to marketer pressure and is now offering them third-party verification on video views.

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Twitter hopes independent verfication from Google will eventually allow it to offer a more diverse blend of ads on the site, spanning brand awareness through to direct response. Noto then went on to explain why he said that Twitter’s ad load, the number of ads it runs, is currently only about a third of what it could become over the long-term. Firstly, it was to assure investors that it hasn’t hit capacity yet though it could become a reality sooner amid slowing user growth. Secondly, as its advertising mix changes, it will also impact ad load.

Consequently, the site admitted more of its ad load would fall into syndication and come from channels beyond its walled garden. "It has a greater percentage this year of non-owned and operated ad revenues than we did last year," said Noto, with the TellApart and Twitter Audience Platform contributing off platform.

“We want to be a one-stop-shop for advertising, which means we have to have a full ad technology stack, and we have to have both demand and supply, and we’re continuing to focus on that,” continued Noto.

He then reiterated the company’s plan to woo new users by creating a simplified experience. The business is undergoing major changes at the moment as it looks to work out how to get more people using the platform each month, an issue that has tempered investors' excitement around its growing ad revenues.

“The onus is on us to make it simpler and easier for people to get it and make sure that value is clearly communicated and the only way to get there is the plan of execution and that's where we're focused every day,” said Noto, who is currently leading Twitter’s brand building efforts while it hunts for a chief marketing officer.

“We've hired a creative agency, television advertising agency, we've hired a digital agency. We're working on integrated campaign behind Project Lightning so we're moving ahead,” he added.

Project Lightening is the feature the social network hopes spurs growth, allowing users to follow live events through curated feeds of tweets, photos ad videos.

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