Twitter has long had the problem of a gap between power users and casual users on the platform. Its new solution: a subscription service for ads. If you’ve promoted tweets in the past, you may have received an invitation to join the new Twitter ad subscription program. Twitter is asking users to take part of the program free for 30 days while the service is in beta. After this trial period, advertisers will need to pay $99 per month.
How Does the Subscription Work?
The subscription program decreases the effort required to run a Twitter campaign. To participate, simply tweet as normal and Twitter will automatically your promote tweets, along with your profile, to users who do not follow your account. You will also receive a report card twice a month detailing how these ads led to greater reach, more followers, and extra engagement.
Participants to the subscription service do nothing to actively create ads. Twitter handles everything, including selecting which tweets to promote (up to 10 each day). The amount Twitter promotes each tweet depends on its performance. Retweets, quote tweets, and replies are never promoted.
Twitter is adding this service right after the news that revenue dropped in Q2 of this year by 5 percent. Twitter made $439 million in 2017 compared to $535 million last year in the same quarter. We already knew that Twitter was struggling, particularly in ad revenue, which fell by 8 percent year-over-year.
Who Is Twitter Targeting?
At the moment, the subscription program is only open to those who receive an invite. The service seems aimed at small businesses more than anyone else. Generally, small businesses lack the time to promote ads alone or require extra support to understand the success of their campaign. It is unlikely to be popular with more serious advertisers who value having control over their ad campaigns.
Limitations of the Twitter Ad Subscription Service
With the subscription, you have no say over which of your tweets Twitter promotes. You also have little control over who sees your ads. And you cannot customize the original tweets that will be promoted.
At least during the testing phases, advertisers will choose who their ads target either according to location or interests. Locations are limited to U.S. metro areas, whereas interests are restricted to a single category, such as sports, beauty, parenting, or technology. Furthermore, you cannot target both a location and an interest. There is no clear reason why this would be a problem for Twitter.
Another downside of the subscription service is the loss of your previous ads. As soon as you sign up for the beta program, you have no access to the ads you ran from your account before.
With all these limitations, Twitter is narrowing the number of users who may be interested in the subscription from the start. As previous ads disappear, even the free trial is not without risks. Combined with the hefty price tag, it seems as if Twitter is not aiming at businesses who are serious about making an impact on social media. Rather, Twitter seems to be targeting amateur advertisers who lack the skills to run proper campaigns.