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Twitter to allow Advertisers to target Browsing History and Email Addresses!

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For the first time now, Twitter will allow advertisers to target users based on the activities they did off the service like web browsing and personal information such as email address.

The company announced that it is opening up to third party data, which will allow advertisers to target people that have visited website or instead provided data as a part of a purchase. In a move to differentiate itself from its competitors, Twitter will now allow users to opt out of targeting that makes use of third party data altogether by unchecking a box in their account settings.

However, if we look at Facebook, it doesn’t let users to opt out of retargeted ads served through its exchange or ads served through its “custom audiences” products that make use of emails and various other data points such as phone numbers and addresses to match users. Similar to custom audience, Twitter will use a process called ‘hashing’ so that emails used to enable the anonymous match are provided in a scrambled, unreadable form.

“It’s really just enabling our ad partners to give us data in a privacy-respecting way,” said Kevin Weil, Twitter’s senior director of product for revenue.

Twitter will serve the ads itself and isn’t working with a wide set of demand-side platforms or retargeting firms. It does have three ad-tech partners — Media6Degrees, Adara and Chango — to help execute the match between browser cookie IDs from website visits and Twitter IDs. (They’ll send Twitter the pixel containing the advertiser’s data.) Advertisers in this U.S.-only pilot are joint customers who also use those firms for other display retargeting.

“Twitter is doing the ad serving,” Mr. Weil said. “It’s really just about improving the relevance of our targeting.” In fact in one his blogs he explained the working of this process. He said, “How does this work? Let’s say a local florist wants to advertise a Valentine’s Day special on Twitter. They’d prefer to show their ad to flower enthusiasts who frequent their website or subscribe to their newsletter. To get the special offer to those people who are also on Twitter, the shop may share with us a scrambled, unreadable email address (a hash) or browser-related information (a browser cookie ID). We can then match that information to accounts in order to show them a Promoted Tweet with the Valentine’s Day deal.”

That means that Twitter advertisers using these features can apply other targeting parameters – like interests or geographies – to slice and dice their audience, which isn’t possible with FBX.

Mr. Weil offered the example of a local florist using the retargeting tool to target people who’ve visited his website, but observed that it’s also designed for big brands. He noted that a possible use case for email-match targeting was to deliver a coupon to known customers. Ultimately these targeting capabilities will be additional levers to pull in Twitter’s ad auction, and not a separate system like FBX is.

“We expect to see higher engagement rates [with these ads],” Mr. Weil said.

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