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Twitter hones in on better targeting with music app launch

Twitter?s recent launch of a standalone music application that helps consumers discover new music highlights the social media giant?s continuous need to break up its mass of users for marketers.

As Twitter continues to segment its audience with stand-alone mobile applications such as #music and Vine, marketing implications around targeting continue to improve for the company. Given Twitter?s reach, its new music app is likely to earn interest from brands that are already using mobile and online to connect with music fans.

?The app is a great social discovery engine for music ? it could potentially mean far more though, especially if Twitter uses the same recommendation format to expand into other forms of content such as television, movies and any kind of online video,? said David Berkowitz, vice president of emerging media at 360i, New York.

"If Twitter markets #music right then this will only garner even more interest to Twitter ? just like how Vine is another way to get a different set of users more active on Twitter,? he said.

?These are brand extensions that can make Twitter an even more entrenched platform in people?s lives.?

Moving to mobile
Last week, Twitter rolled out its new Twitter #music platform, which includes a site a and an iOS app.

Twitter?s music app recommends music based on bands that a user follows and popular artists.

Advertising is not currently enabled in Twitter?s music app via promoted tweets or audio ads.

However, based on the app?s focus on recommendations and Twitter?s bet on mobile as a driver for its revenue, there are still big marketing implications from the app?s launch.

Potentially being able to slice up Twitter?s users into buckets of consumers with similar interests could be particularly important for marketers, similar to Vine.

For instance, an entertainment brand looking to drive ticket sales for an artist could run targeted mobile ads to reach consumers only interested in that genre of music.

Similarly a soda brand such as Pepsi that often centers its marketing around connecting with music fans would be a natural advertising fit with Twitter?s music app.

Targeting has been a big focus for both Facebook and Twitter?s mobile efforts lately.

Twitter?s music app points to the need of the social media giant to refine its targeting capabilities for marketers.

?This shouldn?t impact mobile and social budgets immediately but, as more people use Twitter #music, it will encourage entertainment brands to invest even more in Twitter than they?ve historically done,? Mr. Berkowitz said.

?Other brands that sponsor artists and various forms of entertainment will take notice as well,? he said.

?Twitter tends to build toward long-term plans rather than generate quick hits so, even if the impact isn?t immediate, there?s a great opportunity for this to lead to deeper relationships with marketers in the months and years to come.?

Digital sales
Given how music is social, it is no surprise that music is increasingly playing a bigger role for social media sites.

In fact, Facebook recently rolled out a music-only feed option that only displays updates from musicians that a user follows. Additionally, consumers can see what music their friends are listening to via the segmented tab.

Twitter #music drags preview tracks from iTunes into the app. Additionally, consumers with Spotify and Rdio subscriptions can stream music via the app.

Both Spotify and Rdio offer paid mobile business models where consumers can listen to unlimited music.

Unlike other digital radio streaming companies, Twitter does not need to negotiate licensing deals, meaning that the service is more comprehensive for users.

Therefore, Twitter #music is more of a complement than a competitor to other digital streaming services and could help both Spotify and Rdio boost the number of paid subscribers.

At the same time, since the app aggregates services from a few different music streaming companies, creating a product that streamlines discovery could also be a challenge for Twitter.

"The process of curation and discovery in music eludes simple editorial or algorithmic solutions so to be competitive with global companies that have been deploying more of their resources in the music space for a longer period of time, Twitter will be challenged to close the gap and craft a service that functions as well for music labels as it does for their user base," said Reed Seerman, founder/CEO of, Beverly Hills, CA.

Spotify and Rdio?s paid mobile products also do not incorporate ads, which could help persuade brands to advertise on Twitter #music to reach groups of consumers who are willing to pay for content.

With iTunes, Spotify and Rdio all vying for a place in Twitter #music, the music streaming companies will compete to best leverage Twitter users.

?My bet is on Spotify, since streaming is more convenient with their subscription model,? said Desmond Marzette, creative strategist at Zambezi, Venice, CA.

?Those who have a subscription to Spotify will be like kids in a candy store, and their conversation on Twitter will make non-subscribers feel left out,? he said.
Additionally, Mr. Marzette believes that Twitter #music could also has big implications for driving ticket sales for concerts.

?The launch of Twitter #music means that the line between mobile and social marketing and commerce is continuing to blur,? Mr. Marzette said.

?Music is such an impulse buy, so it feels like the most appropriate product to launch this Twitter distribution model with,? he said.

Mass of data
Twitter has a mass of data on its users, but the challenge continues to be around how to slide advertising into content so that consumers are not overwhelmed.

By bundling all of the information on the app?s users in one place, Twitter could have a stronger grasp on how consumers use the app, according to Eric Mugnier, U.S. senior vice president at M&C Saatchi Mobile, New York.

?All of the music discovery services are likely investing in better recommendations and learning what you like, so they can increase their advertising effectiveness,? Mr. Mugnier said.

?It is certainly too early to say if budgets will shift away from other places to Twitter and the fact that Twitter #music still only pulls its data from Twitter means that brands will still spend with other services who have different user bases,? he said.

However, Mr. Mugnier said that a mobile demand-side platform will likely render the issue as being redundant since the platform would let marketers bid on individual targets regardless of where a consumer is and is more based on picking the right person to serve an ad to, whether it is Pandora, Spotify or through Twitter #music.

?This all comes back to how much the music services are working on the quality of their targeting and integrating with exchanges rather than relying on bulk purchasing of ad inventory,? Mr. Mugnier said.

?But it might take some time for this inventory to be available as RTB,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York