Twitter Transitions Amplify Program: 'Always On' Campaign with Neutrogena and "Pretty Little Liars"

Over the past two years, Twitter has been on a constant mission to prove that it is capable of monetizing users, and in the process it has used a number of inventive ad platforms. In 2013, Twitter debuted Twitter Amplify — a partnership program that lets brands sponsor short ‘in-line’ video clips owned by media outlets on Twitter. The ad product is mobile-centric, and is a manifestation of the need to adapt traditional tactics like sponsorship to fit the mobile landscape. In this case, a viewer typically sees a brand’s pre-roll ad for no longer than 6 seconds prior to the media content. Twitter claims this program is the harmonization of the two screens, allowing viewers to share and relive their favorite TV moments. As mobile becomes the next consideration for marketers, two screen harmonization may be an important facet to the engagement equation. As for Twitter, its adaptable approach may be the driving force to its survival as an ad platform that works. Twitter has been stumbling a bit—releasing significantly underperforming Q1 2015 revenue results. Twitter is acquiring users much slower than before, and is having to resort to using other company’s services for lifelines, such as Google’s ad-serving platform DoubleClick and the acquisition of the consumer profiler TellApart. Twitter is conscious and concerned about its underperformance, and was taking actions to redefine the business as a ‘crowdsourced media platform and advertising agency’— a combination that may or may not work well for the company. Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo blamed the revenue shortfall on Twitter’s new use of “direct response” advertising, such as the “mobile-app install” ads that launched in June 2014. With the announcement of Costolo's resignation as CEO this July, Twitter’s future remains to be seen. However, when Twitter released its Q4 2014 revenue statement, it boasted a 60% increase in ad revenue year-over-year. But some question Amplify’s validity as an ‘always on’ property that marketers can use as planned and pre-bought media space instead of live —although noteworthy— difficult to predict moments. Twitter recently rolled out a self-service version of Amplify called ‘Auto-Amplify’ to make the service available to smaller brands. Such inventive and customizable initiatives are aiming to accelerate grown and regain investor confidence in Twitter, positioning it as a stronger and more effective marketing source than ever before. In AdAge, Ron Amram, senior media director-marketing at Heineken, said of Amplify, "In the moment, in real time, it is fantastic. Now it's about looking beyond sports and live events. The next wave of this is how do you use Amplify with everyday TV schedules?" As if Amram gave Twitter the idea, the company recently launched the Neutrogena ‘Pretty Little Liars’ partnership, the first TV season-long Amplify campaign to date. The ABC Family show is the epitome of the two screen harmonization that Amplify is armed with. The last season’s final episode became the most tweeted series telecast of the year, and almost every season finale before that has broken tweet records. So far Johnson and Johnson has seen 4.7 million impressions for its Neutrogena ads through Amplify as of late June, with an engagement rate of 4.7%, which is four times Twitter’s own standard. Neutrogena's Group Brand Director, Ginny Friedman calls the type of program, ‘appointment tv’, viewers do not want to miss the airing, which makes them engaged in the live feed, tweeting about every plot twist and exciting moment. Friedman said that the company has seen a life in sales since the start of the campaign, saying, “It’s been a nice surprise that the program worked so well.” Twitter Amplify is, for now, a B2C tool, but B2B marketers should still take note, as social media marketing is becoming increasingly widespread in B2B. Social engagement can work very well for the B2B buying process compared to B2C. B2B has a smaller potential customer base, a higher average price point, and a customer decision funnel that is more influenced by word of mouth and reputation. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Twitter Amplify is important. It could be used soon as a way to reach decision makers - and Auto-Amplify could prove useful for B2B companies looking to reach potential customers on mobile, especially knowing that 78% of executives use their personal time for mobile browsing. After all, along with its news and pop-culture relevance, Twitter is an ever-increasing place for business development, and product discussion.