Twitter Ads for Beginners: The 2022 Guide

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Twitter may not be the first social network that pops to mind when thinking about your social advertising strategy. But consider that Twitter ads can reach a potential audience of 486 million users. Ad formats range from ultra-simple to highly sophisticated. And there’s no minimum spend.

With all that in mind, it’s time to incorporate Twitter advertising into your promotional mix. This guide to Twitter ads for beginners walks you through everything you need to know to launch your first Twitter ad campaign today.

Bonus: Download the free 30-day plan to grow your Twitter following fast, a daily workbook that will help you establish a Twitter marketing routine and track your growth, so you can show your boss real results after one month.

Types of Twitter ads

Twitter Promoted Ads

Formerly known as Promoted Tweets, Promoted Ads on Twitter look a lot like regular Tweets. What’s different is that an advertiser is paying to display the content to people who are not already following that advertiser on Twitter.

Like ordinary Tweets, they can be liked, retweeted and commented on. But they are labeled as an ad: they will always say “Promoted” in the lower left-hand corner.

Source: @Oreo

Promoted Ads come in various formats that incorporate different types of media.

  • Text Ads: Look like a basic Tweet, with no additional media components.
  • Image Ads: Include a single photo.
  • Video ads: Like the example from Oreo above, these include a single video. The video will loop if it is under 60 seconds.
  • Moment Ads: A curated collection of Tweets that allows you to tell a longer story.
  • Twitter Live Ads: A promoted livestream.
  • Carousel Ads: Include up to six horizontal swipeable images or videos. Here’s an example of a Carousel Ad from Mitsubishi Canada:

Source: @MitsubishiCAN

Twitter Follower Ads

Formerly known as Promoted Accounts, this type of Twitter ad allows you to promote your brand’s entire Twitter account. It targets users who don’t already follow your brand and can help grow your business’s Twitter following.

Follower Ads are displayed in potential followers’ timelines. The ad will also show in the Who to Follow suggestions and in search results.

As well as being labeled to show that they are Promoted, they also include a Follow button.

Twitter Amplify

Twitter Amplify Pre-roll allows your brand to place pre-roll video ads on content from 15+ categories of pre-screened brand-safe publishers.

Amplify sponsorships allow you to sponsor videos from a specific publisher, like Google does in this video from Leylah Fernandez.

Source: @leylahfernandez

Twitter Takeover

There are two different types of Twitter Takeover.

Trend Takeover

Formerly known as Trending Topics, Trend Takeover allows brands to place a sponsored ad in the What’s happening section of the Twitter homepage and the Trending tab on the Explore screen.

Trend Takeover + includes an image, video, or GIF, and appears at the very top of the Explore tab.

Timeline Takeover

Timeline Takeover is an ad that appears at the very top of a user’s timeline when someone opens Twitter for the first time of the day.

Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtag ads allow you to add a visual component, like an emoji, that automatically appears when someone uses your hashtag.

Source: @BacheloretteABC

Twitter ad specs

Here’s everything you need to know about the components that make up every type of Twitter ad, from character count to Twitter ad size.

Note that a link counts as 23 characters, so assuming your ad includes a link, you’ll actually get 257 characters of copy instead of 280.

Text Ads

Tweet copy: 280 characters.

Image Ads

Tweet copy: 280 characters

Image size: 1200 x 1200 pixels or 1200 x 628 pixels unless you add features like conversation buttons, in which case the size is 800 x 418 pixels

Aspect ratio: 1:1 or 1.91:1

Acceptable file types: PNG or JPEG

Max file size: 5MB

Video Ads

Tweet copy: 280 characters.

Video size: 1200 x 1200 pixels or 1920 x 1080 pixels unless you add features like conversation buttons, in which case the size is 800 x 450 pixels

Aspect ratio: 1:1 or 16:9

Video length: Max 2:20, but Twitter recommends 15 seconds or less

Acceptable file types: MP4 or MOV

Max file size: 1GB, but Twitter strongly recommends keeping the file under 30MB

Thumbnail file types: PNG or JPEG

Max thumbnail size: 5MB

Carousel Ads

Number of slides: 2-6

Image size: 800 x 418 pixels or 800 x 800 pixels

Video size: 800 x 450 pixels or 800 x 800 pixels

Aspect ratio: 1:1 or 1.91:1 for images; 1:1 or 16:9 for videos

Acceptable file types: PNG, JPEG, MP4, MPV

Follower Ads

Tweet copy: 280 characters.

Follower ads automatically render a follower card, which does not include images or video (other than your Twitter profile and banner images).

Amplify Pre-roll

Tweet copy: n/a

Video size: 1200 x 1200 pixels

Aspect ratio: 1:1

Video length: Max 2:20, but Twitter recommends 15 seconds or less

Acceptable file types: MP4 or MOV

Max file size: 1GB

Amplify Sponsorship

Tweet copy: n/a

Video size: 1200 x 1200 pixels

Aspect ratio: 1:1 or 16:9, depending on publisher content

Video length: Max 2:20, but Twitter recommends 6 seconds or less

Acceptable file types: MP4 or MOV

Max file size: 1GB

Twitter Live

Event page copy: 280 characters

Video size: 1200 x 720 pixels recommended; 1920 x 1080 maximum

Trend Takeover

Hashtag: 20 characters

Description: 70 characters

Trend Takeover +

Hashtag: 16 characters

Description: 30 characters

Aspect ratio: 16:9

Acceptable file types: GIF, MP4, PNG, JPEG

Max file size: 5MG image; 15MB GIF

Branded Hashtags

Emoji design: Max 72 x 72 pixels and must be clearly visible at 16 x 16 pixels

How much do Twitter ads cost?

First, the good news: There’s no minimum spend for Twitter ads, so you can pay as much or as little as you like.

But, that doesn’t mean the cost of Twitter ads is entirely up to you. Like most social media platforms, Twitter runs its ads on an auction system. You set the bid you’re willing to pay for a certain action, as well as a daily budget for your campaign.

Here are the billable actions for each type of Twitter campaign:

Goal You pay per
Reach Thousand impressions (CPM)
Video views View
Pre-roll views View
App installs Impression or click
Website traffic Click
Engagements Engagement
Followers Follow
App re-engagements Click

If someone performs a different action from your objective, you don’t have to pay. So, if you’re running a followers campaign and someone likes your paid Tweet but doesn’t follow, there’s no cost to you.

In general, the higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be served to your target audience. But this is not the only factor. When considering which ads to serve, Twitter also considers how engaging your ad is. A high-demand audience will also be more expensive to reach.

That means you can reduce the cost of your Twitter ads by focusing on quality creative and appropriate ad targeting.

In terms of dollars and cents, most Twitter ad objectives cost between $0.50 and $3.00 per action, according to AdEspresso.

How to set up a Twitter ad campaign

Step 1. Choose your advertising objective

Log into your Twitter account and head to Twitter Ads Manager at ads.twitter.com to get started. You’ll begin by deciding what you want to achieve with your Twitter ads.

As noted above, the campaign objective you choose determines which engagement types and actions you’ll pay for.

For this example, we will be walking through a campaign to increase followers and build an audience for your account.

Clicking on your objective will take you to the Campaign details screen. Here, name your campaign, choose how to pay for it, and set your campaign budget.

Once you’ve made your selections, click Next.

Step 2. Set up your ad group and bidding

For your first Twitter ads campaign, you’ll probably want to stick to one ad group. But as you get more comfortable with Twitter ads, split up your campaign into categories to target different audiences, use different creative, or test different budgets and timing.

Name your ad group and select a start and end time, or allow your ad group to run indefinitely.

Here, you will also choose how much you’re willing to pay for each interaction. If you choose Autobid, Twitter will set your bid to get the best results at the lowest price based on your budget. This is a great way to start if you’re brand new to Twitter advertising and want to get a good grasp on how bidding works.

Step 3. Target your audience and choose your placements

The targeting options help you choose the right audience for your ad and maximize your budget.

You’ll start with demographic targeting. Define your audience by gender, age, location, language and technology.

With location targeting, you can get as specific as a particular metro area or even postal code. Or you can be broad and target a whole country. The technology component allows you to target by device, carrier or operating system.

The Targeting features section allows you to target your ad to users based on events, interests, and behaviors, and even the specific topics and TV shows users Tweet about.

To help guide you, the interface provides an estimated audience size summary that changes as you add more targeting options to your campaign.

You can also choose to upload your own list of people (such as your email list), or choose to target people who are similar to your follower base. If you want to use remarketing Twitter ads to reach people who have already interacted with your business, you can upload a list or create a custom audience based on website activity.

At the bottom of this screen, you’ll choose where you want your ads to display.

Once you’ve made your selection, click Next.

Step 4. Create your ads

Now that you’ve set up the framework for your campaign, it’s time to create some ads.

You can use an existing Tweet as an ad, or create a new ad by filling in the fields on the Ad details screen.

You’ll see a preview of your ad as you work.

When you’re happy with your ad, click Next.

Step 5. Launch your campaign

Finally, review all the options you’ve selected. Click Launch campaign to launch your ad.

And that’s it!

Twitter ads best practices

Keep it short

Sure, you can use up to 280 characters in your Twitter ad (or 257 if you include a link). But that doesn’t mean you should. Twitter research suggests the best performing Twitter ads only use 50 to 100 characters.

Best Buy Canada uses just 87 characters in this carousel ad.

Include a call to action

Don’t be shy about telling people what steps you want them to take after viewing your Twitter ad. Running a followers campaign? Don’t rely on the Follow button. Specifically ask viewers to follow you in the body of your Tweet.

The same goes for all campaign objectives. Ask for what you want, and you’re more likely to get it.

In this Twitter ad, Pipedrive drives Twitter users to its free trial with a simple call to action: “Try it yourself.”

Avoid hashtags and @mentions

While these Twitter features can be highly useful in organic Tweets, they’re best to avoid in paid ads. They create ways for Twitter users to click away from your ad in ways that serve you no purpose.

Focus your efforts on getting users to click in ways that directly serve you, like to your website, or on the Follow button.

In this ad, IBM mentions both Salesforce and TAG Heuer. But they don’t @mention either brand, since they want to drive clicks to the linked case study, rather than to the other brands’ Twitter accounts.

Lean into video

It’s a good idea to include at least one video ad in every campaign. Twitter recommends keeping your video to 15 seconds or less. Keep in mind that videos less than 60 seconds will play in a loop.

Grab attention in the first few seconds, including clear branding within the first three seconds. Twitter research shows that video ads with clear logo placement lead to 30% higher brand recall.

Disney+ hits the mark on all of these points in this video ad, with a 15-second video with action right off the bat, logo overlay throughout, and a full-screen brand call-out before the two-second mark.

Be sure to include captions or text overlay in your video ad so it is equally impactful without sound.

But not only video

Using a combination of ad formats creates the maximum impact. Twitter recommends using three to five different ad formats for the greatest brand lift, campaign awareness, and purchase intent.

A variety of ad formats allows you to expose viewers to your message in multiple ways while avoiding ad fatigue.

Above we showed an example of a Mitsubishi Canada carousel ad. Here’s a photo ad from the same campaign.

Work on your bid strategy

When you first start advertising on Twitter, it’s difficult to know exactly how much to bid. In this case, it’s wise to take advantage of Twitter’s auto bid feature to ensure your ads are served.

As your campaign runs, monitor your bids and the performance of all of your ads in Twitter Ads Manager. This helps you understand how much you should expect to bid, and allows you to tweak your bids to maximize the performance of your most successful ads.

Tweak your targeting

When you first start a Twitter ad campaign, you don’t want to eliminate potentially valuable prospects by targeting your ads too narrowly. Target based on what you know about your audience, but keep things relatively broad to start.

As your campaign runs, monitor your results to see which audiences are most responsive, and add layers of targeting to focus on them and people like them.

If you’re running more than one campaign at the same time, vary your targeting so that the campaigns reach different audiences, rather than competing for the same audience’s attention.

Create separate campaigns for mobile and desktop

People use Twitter differently on mobile and desktop, and they consume ads differently, too. Not only do mobile ads need to be optimized for the smaller screen, but they also need to be optimized for the quick sessions and speedy scrolling of mobile users.

Twitter suggests that mobile Twitter use also features “spur-of-the-moment spikes in purchase intent.”

Running separate campaigns tailored for mobile and desktop users allows you to understand how people interact with your ads in each setting and get the most from your ad spend. Or, focus in on one of these audiences if you see it converts better for your goal.

For example, this ad for Stack TV appears only in my mobile feed, not on desktop. The six-second video with quick cuts and text overlay is optimized for mobile viewing and tapping. Meanwhile, the free trial offer takes advantage of those spur-of-the-moment mobile purchase urges.

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