- Twitter announced in a company blog post that it's bringing more transparency into advertising on its platform via an online Transparency Center, along with improving user controls over ad preferences and adopting stricter ad policies. At the same time, the company has agreed to have the industry watchdog the Media Rating Council (MRC) independently audit its ad measurements in order to appease brands, according to Marketing Land.
- The bluntly-named Transparency Center intends to offer users information about the ads they're seeing, including Promoted-Only ads, as well as a portal to provide feedback. The hub will show how long ads have been running, the ad creative associated with a given campaign, ads that are targeted at a user and which ads the user is eligible to receive based on Twitter's targeting parameters. Additionally, any electioneering ads — political ads attached to a specific candidate — have to label themselves as such with a "visual indicator."
- Electioneering campaigns will have a dedicated section in the Transparency Center that shows all political ads that are currently running or that have already ran on Twitter; total campaign ad spend by the advertiser, along with that advertier's past ad spending is as drawn from historical data; the identity of the organization funding the campaign and the campaign's targeting demographics like age and gender.
With these developments, Twitter is attempting to one-up some of its main competitors in the ad space, including Facebook and Google, when it comes to the hotly watched area of improving digital media transparency. Facebook last month announced a similar move to provide more clarity on political ad campaigns run on its platform and Google has introduced myriad brand safety controls and human reviewers to its properties over the past year. Facebook's update came in the wake of revelations around widespread Russian meddling during last year's U.S. presidential election, an issue that also impacted Twitter.
While a portion of Twitter's new Transparency Center intends to clear some of the murk out of electioneering efforts, the site opening up a new degree of access into consumer-facing marketing efforts for its users as well shows the company is taking an extra step when it comes to transparency. Users on the platform will likely appreciate that honesty and the level of detail provided into the campaigns they see on Twitter. This all also comes at a time when marketers are growing increasingly concerned about fake news and other inflammatory content shared online, which can dent brand credibility merely by association.
"This is a great move by Twitter — because they control all of their inventory inside of their audience based platform, they can build unique features that build trust among their community and the world at large," Jason Beckerman, CEO and co-founder of Unified, told Marketing Dive in an emailed statement.
"Companies taking steps like this to self-police will create greater trust and limit blow back when situations like the 2016 election issues arise," he said. "Brands should be taking a similar approach to controlling their experiences within these social ecosystems."
The MRC audit demonstrates Twitter is committed to re-establishing the type of brand trust in the online media space that has degraded considerably this year. In January, Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard put out a call to action for its vendors to receive MRC accreditation before the end of 2017 or otherwise lose the CPG's ad business. Earlier this month, he suggested that that work is about two-thirds of the way done, forecasting that Facebook, Google and others will meet his deadline.
Twitter has seen ad revenue and audience growth stagnate and, in the former's case, even decline in recent years despite initiatives like a push to promote more video content and the popularity of public figures like President Donald Trump on the platform. The company will report its third-quarter earnings Thursday, Oct. 26.