Twitter's 'Certified Products' Lacks Ad Integration, For Now

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Is Twitter's new "Certified Products" program analogous to Facebook's Preferred Marketing Developer directory, which has become such an important entry point for advertiser demand? Yes and no.

Yes, in that both programs aim to create an "approved" list of vendors that can help businesses leverage its platform for marketing, CRM, and other purposes. Also, both offer a menu of vendor badges – which aspiring boyscouts in their platform ecosystems can iron onto their sashes.

No, in that the Twitter platform is very different from Facebook from a developer and advertiser standpoint. True, both have analytics needs, messaging tools, and self-serve native ad platforms (nascent in Twitter's case). But the similarities sort of end there.

Most importantly, Twitter does not yet offer an Ads API, whereas Facebook's partner program for advertising is robust, with nearly 50 PMDs empowered to sell and serve ads on its inventory. Indeed, this move begs the question, when will we see the Twitter Ads API?

In a blog post today, Twitter describes the badge programs for Analytics Providers, Data Resellers, and Engagement companies, and identifies its first 12 partners – including the likes of ExactTarget, Radian6, and Mass Relevance. And this documentation page offers more information about each category and what Twitter expects from vendors seeking accreditation for them.

Here's a breakdown of some of the more interesting use cases outlined for Twitter's Engagement vertical, which is probably most relevant to folks concerned with marketing and CRM on the platform:

"Add robust CRM features to Twitter account management (e.g. integrating with existing customer databases and historical views of past conversations with users)" This shows how much Twitter wants to be a mission critical customer service function. In the wake of acquisitions like Oracle/Vitrue and Salesforce/Buddy Media, it's a good bet large enterprise CRM platforms will seek accreditation for this badge.

"Enable brands to find and curate Tweets for marketing campaigns, research, etc... Integrate with a publisher’s content or product database to surface timely content to tweet." Twitter needs to make it easier for brands to leverage positive buzz and turn it into ad dollars. These two line items are about helping advertisers find ideal tweets to turn into Promoted Products campaigns. Combined with an optimization algorithm, you can almost see a future for dynamic creative optimization on Twitter. 

"Enable regulated businesses to meet retention or audit requirements." For example, marketers in the spirits industry tend to disable content and ad delivery to consumers under 21, regardless of the local drinking age where a message is seen. Given the right filtering tools, a Diageo or Anheuser-Busch CMO might green-light targeting 19 year-olds in places where the drinking age is 18. Or so Twitter hopes.

"Recommend content for a brand or publisher to tweet or promote." See above regarding Promoted Products.

While the Certified Products program does not have a strong ad integration at this time, there's unquestionably an opportunity for Twitter to ramp up its Promoted Products by creating an Ads API and allowing third parties to bring demand to the table. A rep declined to comment on when or if that might happen.

Meanwhile at least one e-commerce marketer  is suggesting inbound traffic from Twitter performs better than other social platforms. A Zappos exec cited by Bloomberg reported that user posts on Twitter delivered average revenue-per-order of $33.66, well above Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook posts brought in $2.08 whereas Pinterest posts averaged a mere $0.75. (This appears to be part of a test conducted by Zappos Labs, not necessarily applicable to all Zappos-bound Twitter traffic)

“Even if a person has 100,000 followers on Pinterest and she pins something to a board called ‘Stuff I Love,’ that’s not as big a deal as an endorsement tweeted to 10,000 followers,” Will Young, director of Zappos Labs, told Bloomberg.

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