Google spoiled marketers. The Mountain View, Calif.-tech company gave online marketing agencies and companies a self-serve ad platform to create pay per click (PPC) ads. Microsoft and Yahoo did their fare share, too, spoiling smaller companies with the opportunity to jump into the self-serve fray.
Display advertising platforms followed, as Google decided to make buying display ads as easy as buying search. Then along came Facebook with a hybrid search and display ad model and platform that made them as simple to buy as paid search.
Online marketers crave self-service ad platforms, so much so that Twitter has begun work to build one, too. The company introduced a platform late last year, which some advertisers have been beta testing.
Some say the platform is self-serve.
Kathleen Colan, director of marketing and content at Mongoose Metrics, defines "self-serve" as a platform that doesn't require "the evolvement of an account executive or tech exec." She confirms the initial setup requires an account rep, but not for each campaign. She has been using the platform since Nov. 1 with success. "It's simple and easy, a self-service type model," she says.
In a blog post, Colan explains the results from 14 Promoted Tweet campaigns that ran Nov. 1, through the end of December. In those 14 campaigns there were been between five and 20 rotating tweets. The campaigns in total drew 961,000 tweet impressions; 18,000 clicks; 220 retweets; 168 replies; 126 conversions at a cost of $2,067. Not wanting to split hairs with definitions, she admits finding success through what she describes, basically, as a self-serve model.
Twitter spokesman Matt Graves claims the platform is not self-serve because an account rep must set up the account. Clix Marketing Founder David Szetela calls it self-serve, insisting marketers only need the rep to set up accounts and gain access to the platform. Once access is gained to the platform, Szetela's marketing experts can build ads from tweets -- and they call it the self-service model for social marketing that marketers want.
Graves says Twitter defines "self-serve" as a platform that doesn't require a marketing company to work with an in-house sales rep. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other marketing exec and companies might define "self-serve" differently -- could be a matter of semantics. Graves says the offering is part of the Promoted Products suite announced late last year. The initial setup requires a sales rep, but using the platform to initiate each Promoted Tweets does not.
Define self-serve as you will, but social marketing needs a self-serve model to succeed. Earlier this week research firm eMarketer published estimates that put Twitter revenue this year at $150 million, more than three times the $45 million earned last year. The firm also estimates that Twitter revenue could reach $250 million in 2012.
Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst, told MediaPost earlier this week that Twitter will make many changes in the coming year. "Self-service models are not only for small or local businesses," she says. "You also see marketers at very large businesses such as media buyers at Razorfish buying ads on Facebook. They use Facebook branded advertising sold through the direct sales team, but also through the self-serve system."
The self-serve system opens up to a much wider array of advertisers such as companies involved in performance advertisers who buy lots of impressions on bulk. Aho Williamson says they are good at fine-tuning keywords and targeting because they have done it on Google for years and likely Facebook for a couple of years. Now they will have another avenue on Twitter.
Not yet, Graves says. He asserts the "self-serve" platform won't be released until later this year. I can't wait to see what the next phase looks like.