twitter-bird-white-on-blueSmall businesses and large enterprises are now created equal – at least when it comes to advertising on Twitter.

Twitter announced its new advanced advertising interface for small businesses and other self-service advertisers recently. It doesn’t matter if you’re operating a small online store or are the webmaster of a local car dealership, if you currently use Twitter Ads or have been invited to join, you now have an all access pass to powerful targeting and reporting tools. Prior to the announcement, these advanced options and reports were only available to big brands and big spenders.

The advertising platform has been available by invitation only since last March and these recent adjustments have been made based on user experience. As feedback rolled in over the past year, Product Manager Ravi Narasimhan explained in the announcement’s blog post that “two requests kept coming up: marketers wanted access to more robust targeting tools, as well as a pathway to all the bells and whistles of our advanced interface if they desired it.”

This slow but steady roll out of Twitter’s advertising platform and its subsequent updates is part of the network’s effort to monetize the site. So to attract more businesses of all sizes, the Twitter Ads team has launched several new ad features, including audience targeting, advanced campaign controls and expanded reporting and analytics, that smaller businesses and webmasters weren’t previously able to access.

Reach the Right Tweeter by Interest, Device and Gender

I think we can all agree that communicating a message to a relevant and specific audience is imperative to advertising success. So whether you’re promoting an individual tweet or your actual user account, Twitter has now given you the power to select your audience by interest, device and gender.

Interests can be targeted using two different methods. The first method uses @usernames, which will select users that have the same interests as the followers of the selected user. For example, if you operate an ecommerce store which sells mostly shoes, you might consider targeting users with the same interests as the followers of the @shoesdotcom account.

Hundreds of interest categories are also available to use separately or in conjunction with the @usernames interests. You can select very broad categories, like beauty, education, gaming, music and style or very specific subcategories like hair care, college life, online gaming, jazz and women’s shoes.

The appearance of your Promoted Tweets can also be limited based on a user’s specific device and platform. Several choices are available including desktop/laptop computers, iOS, Android and BlackBerry.

Targeting tweets by device can help you drive users to optimized content on your website. And if you’re tweeting about your new mobile app for a specific mobile device or tablet, it can also help you increase app downloads.

Products, websites and apps can also be gender specific, so Twitter has also enabled the option to segment your target audience by women only, men only or all genders. You might wonder how this is possible since Twitter doesn’t even ask users to specify their gender in their user profiles. The site uses an algorithm to identity a user’s gender by signals like account name, real name, and followed accounts.

Advanced Campaign Controls and Reporting

All new and existing Twitter Ads users have the option to convert to the new advanced campaign dashboard. If you’re interested in deeper campaign controls, multi-campaign optimization and more detailed reports and analytics, you should definitely consider making the switch. However, it’s important to remember that this is a permanent decision – once you go advanced, Twitter claims that you can never go back.

The deeper controls include scheduling start and end dates for your campaigns. Currently, basic dashboard users are only able to manually start and stop campaigns. This feature can be helpful especially if you’re using Twitter to promote time sensitive material like sales promotions and online and offline company events.

Expanded reports can now be generated to analyze how targeted audiences interact with your Promoted Tweets and Promote Accounts. These campaign analytics can also be drilled down by device, location, gender and interests.

In a recent blog post, Twitter Product Manager Christopher Golda, explained that these reports include all engagements that Promoted Tweets receive, including earned media. These further insights will give you a more complete view of the impact your ad campaign has on encouraging engagement and increasing brand visibility.

Ready to Get Targeting? Not So Fast.

Unfortunately just because you own a smaller business or website doesn’t mean you can use these new features immediately. Access to Twitter Ads is still by invitation only, so if you’re not currently signed up, double-check the email connected to your Twitter account for an invitation. If you’re like me, you might have missed (or ignored) the email when it hit your inbox.

If you’re a business owner, webmaster or developer who does not have access to Twitter Ads, you can request access by visiting

By Adrienne Erin