The promise of the worldwide web for advertisers has always been the ability to target customers more precisely than the mass-market advertising that goes out through television and print media. For that kind of precision, marketers are forced — and are willing — to pay a premium.
But there are many ways to target consumers on the web, either at the desktop or on a mobile device. When Forrester Research asked U.S., U.K., and Canadian advertisers which marketing channels they use, Twitter Inc. trails only Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) in usage, but lags behind every other channel except Facebook in satisfaction.
The channel that gets the best satisfaction rating from advertisers is email with a 68% rating. On-site ratings and reviews tie with search marketing at 66%, and a branded forum comes in with 65%. Word-of-mouth marketing garners a 62% satisfaction rating.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) owns the search market. The on-site reviews and ratings (if they’re not seeded with company shills) could be a comparison site like Cnet or a company-owned site. Some sites, like LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) provide a variety of forums, branded or not, that are popular among advertisers.
On the eve of its initial public offering, Twitter’s lack of profitability is giving pause to some of the enthusiasm for what is likely to be the biggest IPO event of the year. To keep advertisers happy and to attract more, Forrester says Twitter needs to do more than just provide the opportunities for advertising, it needs to give marketers the tools and help they need to get the most out of their ad dollars. These tools and help are offered by Google, LinkedIn, and to some extent,Facebook too.
Most marketing on Twitter is aimed at raising brand awareness which is several steps removed from the holy grail of advertising — brand loyalty. That’s the beauty — at least from a marketers’ point of view — of email: start a rewards club, send your customers an email regularly with new offers, and measure the results. It’s a little more complicated than that, but essentially it’s easy to understand and to measure.
Either Twitter or Facebook is the current front-runner to achieve the breakthrough that leads to a deep relationship between their advertisers and their users. It’s only a matter of time.