Twitter plans to go the way of Facebook, opening their platform up to developers to create “experience” apps for Brand Pages sometime this year, says Advertising Age. Citing anonymous executives familiar with the matter, they claim the new features will include e-commerce, contests, and sweepstakes.
Though Twitter declined to comment on the new apps, Chief Revenue Officer Adam had said at the time Brand Pages launched in December that features were in the works. Brand Pages were first available to 21 select advertising partners, including Bing, Coca-Cola and HP. In January, Twitter opened the pool to those advertisers with $25,000 or more committed in active ad spend.
Twitter seems to work closely with the group of core advertisers originally offered Brand Pages, consulting with them on new features and using their feedback in the development process.
Search Engine Watch spoke with companies using Twitter Brand Pages back in January, when Coca-Cola’s director of worldwide interactive marketing Michael Donnelly told us, “Twitter is a close and valued partner that really listens to brands, so while detailed lead times were short, we had been working with them on the some of the concepts for a few weeks.”
Currently, Brand Pages offer select advertisers a large banner at the top of the page, with a pinned and auto-expanding tweet. By its very nature, though, Twitter sends users outside the platform with most interactions, while Facebook dominates for brand interaction. There isn’t much incentive for users to revisit a Brand Page after they’ve chosen to follow a brand, as they can see the content in their tweetstream.
Experience apps like those developed on Facebook should help brands increase user engagement. Eric Hadley, general manager of worldwide marketing for Bing and MSN, told us in January, “We are very pleased with the growth of our Twitter handle – our Twitter base has grown nearly 50 percent in the last six months. We’re seeing significant increases in engagement as well – with re-tweets increasing 28% last month alone.”
Still, Bing’s 188,000 followers on Twitter pales in comparison to their 2.3 million fan army on Facebook. There is a massive opportunity for Twitter to steal away a piece of the advertising revenue pie of they can get engagement up and increase time spent on Brand Pages for advertisers. According to eMarketer, revenue is expected to reach $259.9 million this year, up from $139.5 million in 2011. Facebook, in comparison, grew their advertising revenue 69 percent in 2011, to $3.1 billion.
The rumored introduction of e-commerce to the Twitter platform is made more believable by the fact that co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey is also CEO of Square, a mobile payments company.
E-commerce will be a lucrative avenue for both Twitter and the brands using it, if they really are entering the fray this year.
Over the 2011 holiday season, we saw that retail traffic driven from Twitter spent more on average, per order, than that from Facebook or organic traffic from AOL, Yahoo, Bing, and Google. Still, Twitter had the smallest percentage of session share, at just 0.02 percent; together, Facebook and Twitter accounted for less than 1 percent of organic retail holiday traffic.
EMarketer credits social commerce, mobile commerce, and daily deals sites with the continued growth of the online retail space. They predict over $100 billion in annual online retail sales by 2015.