Thanks to adtech and big data, marketers have more ways than ever to target consumers in digital channels.

But Twitter is taking targeting to a whole new level with the announcement that it is letting advertisers reach out to consumers based on the emojis they use.

Marketers can access emoji targeting through six of Twitter's ad partners - AdParlor, Amobee, HYFN, Perion, SocialCode and 4C.

According to Twitter product manager Neil Shah, 110bn emojis have been tweeted since 2014, and that is apparently a gold mine for marketers...

This new feature uses emoji activity as a signal of a person’s mood or mindset — unlocking unique opportunities for marketers.

Shah suggested that Twitter's new targeting feature can be used to "connect with people based on their expressed sentiment," "target people who Tweet food emojis," and "reach people based on their passions."

A late April Fool's joke?

While there often is an association between emojis and sentiment, the latter two use cases presented by Shah beg the question: is Twitter playing a late April Fool's joke on marketers?

Many brands are embracing emojis, some with success and others perhaps not as much success.

But using them to drive targeting decisions appears, on the surface, to be a real stretch and makes about as much sense as the Great Econsultancy Emoji Marketing Buster.

After all, just because a user tweets a pizza emoji doesn't mean she has the urge to buy a pizza, and just because a user tweets a soccer ball emoji doesn't mean she's passionate about soccer.

Obviously, it's possible that emoji targeting will sort of work some of the time – stranger, crazier things have happened.

But brands already struggling to deal with widespread use of ad blockers, understand things like programmatic, etc. probably won't find emoji targeting to be a particularly compelling use of their time and resources.

Instead, they shouldn't be surprised if this feature eventually goes the way of Twitter's Buy button

And with Snapchat reportedly surpassing Twitter in daily active users and Instagram proving to be more popular than Twitter among agencies, the launch of emoji targeting might cause some marketers to question if Twitter's ad business has totally jumped the shark.

Patricio Robles

Published 20 June, 2016 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

I'm suddenly grateful that the rifle emoji was banned
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/20/apple-facebook-and-google-ban-rifle-emoji-from-olympics-update/

More seriously, marketers may be able to guess skin color, gender, and family status from some of the emoji that people use, so the idea's not complete

about 2 years ago

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