Twitter Uses Email Addresses to Target Ads
By Eric Huebner
July 8, 2013
Twitter recently announced the latest update to its advertising service: targeted ads based on email
addresses and browser histories.
Twitter is only the latest network to adopt this strategy. It’s been a cornerstone of competitor Facebook’s
advertising strategy since 2010. While Facebook’s service initially saw a large public backlash, largely
swirling around accusations of privacy invasion, Twitter has preemptively moved to prevent similar
dissatisfaction by allowing users to opt out of the service by simply clicking a small check box on their
“account settings” tab, a stark contrast to Facebook’s maze-like privacy restrictions. In addition, this new
ad service will support do not track (DNT) technology, allowing users to block all incoming browser data.
This service allows advertisers to target consumers in a much more precise manner. By aggregating user
data, Twitter can then direct promoted tweets to those users who are most likely to click them.
This entire process works very simply. If a beach shop wanted to promote a special Fourth of July deal to
customers last week, they could have targeted customers that had subscribed to their newsletter or
visited their website recently. In order to reach their customers on Twitter, this shop could have shared a
user’s scrambled and unreadable email address or browser-related cookie ID’s. Twitter would have then
matched that information to an account and shared a promoted tweet regarding the Fourth of July sale
with the user.
In the past, Twitter has allowed advertisers to target consumers based on factors like gender, location
and other population demographics. With the addition of this new email and browser-based targeting,
Twitter should theoretically be able to offer companies the most precisely targeted social advertising
available, a claim that will serve the company in good stead and keep advertising dollars flowing in as
Twitter transitions to its new ad exchange.
As the debut date for that ad exchange has not yet been revealed, this appears to be the best way for
Twitter to continue to develop and refine its advertising service moving forward. Even in the lightning-
quick world of Silicon Valley, Twitter is still a young company, and this latest update has not only placed it
on the same level as its major competitors, but has actually surpassed competing services in many ways,
allowing Twitter to continue on its meteoric rise.