Have Promoted Tweets worked for travel companies?
The short (ish) answer is that very few travel-related businesses have even entered the programme, despite it being around for over 12 months.
One of the first was the Virgin America airline, selected in April 2010 as one of a number of major consumer brands to trial the long awaited platform to give Twitter a revenue stream outside of selling data to search engines.
Last week, of course, there was an eruption of inevitable gushing from fans and raising of eyebrows from critics when Twitter’s director of revenue said to advertise on so-called trending topics (a tweet at the top of the time-line of a popular topic) could cost around $120,000 per day. Yes, six figures – $120,000 per day.
Given the secret world around Promoted Tweets, Trends and also Promoted Accounts (Twitter apparently doesn’t like customers talking about it so much), getting hard data out of companies as to how well the concept performs is actually rather difficult.
Another travel company that has given the experiment a proper go is Viator, joining the programme with a dedicated campaign earlier this year.
It has embarked on two elements of the “Promoted” advertising platform: Tweets and Accounts.
Vice president of marketing Kelly Gillease says the company was buying advertising on Facebook but wanted to see how the Promoted Tweets worked, especially as it appeared to show how a brand can engage with a particular audience.
Viator will not share details of costs around the campaign and Twitter does not disclose how it goes about targeting different Twitter users, but Gillease reckons when a particular campaign has been put in place the response has been “good”.
The word “good” is rather flimsy, but Viator considers gaining followers to its main @viator account and seeing Twitters users taking part in sales and promos as a sign of success.
Results have been similar when using Promoted Accounts, Gillease says.
Examples of how Viator has targeted different groups include appearing on specific search terms, such as “shore excursions” (as above) and other destination-related phrases.
It has also appeared on far bigger volume searches such as “iPhone”, plugging its own iPhone application.
The company also appeared at the top of search results for #TBEX last weekend, ensuring its name was in front of hundreds of travel bloggers either in attendance or following the conversation from the event in Vancouver, Canada.
Gillease says Viator it “excited” to be part of the beta test for Promoted elements of Twitter and will continue it for the foreseeable future.
But how does working on promotions through Twitter fit within Viator’s wider marketing strategy?
Gillease says no other channel has lost out as a result of trying the Twitter beta (it’s using new money, in other words) and, perhaps most significantly, the general click-through rate from promoted content appearing on Twitter is comparable to the other channels it uses.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.