Twitter recently raised the price of its Promoted Trend ad product to $200,000 per day. For those not familiar, the Promoted Trend is shown at the top of Twitter’s trending hashtag list. It looks like this:
There was a lot of hubbub about how at this price point, Promoted Trends alone have the potential to generate $73M annually for Twitter. Granted that’s if they sell one every day of the year (which they don’t) but demand certainly must be high given the price hike. I say good for them. Twitter is great and deserves to succeed but two hundred grand seems like a lot of money for a hashtag and I couldn’t help but wonder– is it worth it? To find out, I tracked the promoted trend of the day to see what the advertiser got for their money. I did this on February 11, 2013 shortly after reading about the new price tag. On that day Hyundai was footing the bill for #TakeCenterStage which they did in partnership with the Grammys. Cool, so let’s see what happened.
According to Twitter, the Promoted Trend gets anywhere between 60-80M impressions over the course of the day. Let’s be generous and go with 80M impressions of their “ad unit.” For all you old school banner buyers out there, that’s a CPM of $2.50. Seems reasonable enough but what value does Hyundai derive from a massive 80M impressions of the words #TakeCenterStage? I’d argue little to none; especially since that “trend” isn’t associated with Hyundai in any way unless someone clicks on it.
The next question becomes, what’s the CTR? Only once someone clicks on the hashtag will Hyundai’s avatar and tweet be visible to a user. This is after all what the brand wants. Artificially create a trend and have their name associated with it via their tweet at the top of the stream (which promptly disappears as you scroll). Unfortunately, I don’t know the CTR and Twitter doesn’t say. It’s probably for good reason as engagement has to be abysmally low. On that note, if anyone has run a campaign on Twitter and wouldn’t mind sharing their analytics, a message to me @bbhardy would be greatly appreciated! Okay, since we don’t have CTR info, let’s first look at the retweets and favorites for all of Hyundai’s tweets that showed up in the top slot of this trending hashtag. We should be able to intuit some sort of engagement level from that. Here they are:
That’s 8 different tweets over the course of the campaign, amounting to a whopping 30 retweets and 9 favorites. Ouch!
Alright so those numbers are paltry but what about all the other original tweets containing #TakeCenterStage? Hashtag tracking tools put the number at ~3,300. If you enjoy scrolling through spam and random pleas for fame, Twitter’s search will show all of them. Okay so 80M impressions resulted in a few thousand Tweets of a phrase that makes no mention of Hyundai. Not looking too good for our Korean friends so far.
Well, maybe people didn’t tweet about taking center stage but hopefully they visited the site Hyundai linked to in the tweet. Driving traffic to the site created for this promotion certainly seems important given that the end goal is people submitting their songs to hyundaicenterstage.com for the Grammys sweepstakes. Every Hyundai tweet made sure to link to it and c’mon it was trending on Twitter all day long. I trust Hyundai’s servers were ready to handle the massive influx of traffic. Luckily, a bit.ly link was used so we can track all the clicks (I love you betaworks).
Oh man, 757 clicks on Feb. 11. Double ouch!
So to quickly recap, a $200,000 Promoted Trend campaign on Twitter garnered 30 retweets, 9 favorites, about 3,300 additional uses of the promoted hashtag, and 757 site visitors. That outcome could have been achieved on other platforms with a properly managed budget of $200. Instead it cost $6,666 per retweet, $22,222 per favorite, $60 per hashtag, and $264 per site visit. Talk about ROI!
No doubt Twitter will continue to sell these ad spots but unless I’m missing something major here, one has to wonder how Twitter makes this appear remotely worth it and why an agency would ever buy it on behalf of their client. I suppose you #cantputapriceonbeingtrendy.