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Guide to Twitter Advertising: Promoted Trends 101

Promoted Trends are part of Twitter’s Promoted Products suite, the first genuine attempt at incorporating advertising into its micro-blogging platform. Promoted Trends join Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts as the three ways that advertisers can engage with the 160 million Twitter users to monetize, increase brand awareness, and gain exposure.

This is our second report on the state of Promoted Products, which will examine Promoted Trends in detail. We also have a Promoted Tweets guide available, and will be preparing the Promoted Accounts guide in the coming weeks.

What are Promoted Products?

For those unfamiliar with Twitter’s Promoted Products, these are basically Twitter’s advertising vehicles. Tweets, Trends and Accounts can all be promoted, in order to reach more (and more targeted) Twitter users and be part of a conversation defined by the advertiser.

What Are Promoted Trends?

Twitter began rolling out Promoted Trends in June 2010. Promoted Trends are “time-, context-, and event-sensitive trends promoted by [Twitter's] advertising partners”, which appear in the Trending Topics side bar.

Promoted Trends began appearing at the bottom of the Trending Topics bar, but they were bumped to the top – effectively giving them more significance and traction – in October. They are clearly marked with a “Promoted” yellow label, just like Promoted Tweets.

Disney’s Pixar was among the first advertising partner to do a test run of Promoted Trends on Twitter, advertising Toy Story 3. Along with promoting the trend “Toy Story 3″, Disney included a Promoted Tweet at the top of the results when users clicked the trend. Combining a Promoted Tweet with a Promoted Trend has now become common practice among advertisers.

Ev Williams also said that Promoted Trends, like Promoted Tweets, are part of the organic Twitter system before they are sponsored by an advertiser and become a Promoted Product. He said that Twitter has developed a resonance score to monitor how people are engaging with a trending topic – if no one is talking about it, it will be dropped from the list even if it is promoted. This is to ensure that Twitter users care about what advertisers put in front of them.

Cost and Effectiveness

Fast Company reports that Promoted Trends cost $100,000 for a 24 hour period.

Coca-Cola is one of the only advertisers to take their Promoted Trend results public: in 24 hours, Coca-Cola’s Promoted Trend #WC2010 saw 86 million impressions and a 6% engagement rate, which the company reported was a good return on their investment.

And at this week’s Web 2.0 Summit, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams revealed that Promoted Trends increase the conversation around the promoted topic by 3 to 6 times.

What’s Holding it Back?

Like Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends are still in the experimental phase. They are only available to a handful of companies (likely less than 40), with Twitter hoping to make them available to hundreds by the end of the year. This means that only a small amount of data has been collected, and a smaller amount, like the Coca-Cola case above, revealed publicly.

Advertisers are watching the space with interest, and it looks like Promoted Trends are poised to be one of the most successful Twitter advertising tools in 2011.

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