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Twitter takes aim at Google with keyword-based ad targeting

Twitter has added a new layer to its advertising platform that will let partners target their ads based on the content of your tweets.

The new process — keyword targeting in timelines —is being rolled out to advertisers and lets them "reach users based on the keywords in their recent Tweets and the Tweets with which users recently engaged," Twitter product manager Nipoon Malhotra wrote in a blog post.

Malhotra said the service "lets marketers reach users at the right moment, in the right context."

For instance, if you tweet about loving the new David Bowie album, and he happens to be touring in your neighborhood, a local concert venue could run a geo-targeted, Bowie-related keyword campaign with a tweet containing a link to buy tickets. That promoted message would show up in your timeline, prompting you to purchase tickets, or perhaps share the details of the show.

Users won't see any change to their Twitter feed, Malhotra promised. Ads will not be shown any more frequently and users can still dismiss irrelevant or annoying Promoted Tweets.

"In fact, we believe users' experiences with ads will improve as a result of this feature as they see more relevant Promoted Tweets," Malhotra wrote.

In advertising tests, the micro-blogging company found that users were significantly more likely to engage with keyword-targeted ads than other forms of timeline targeting.

Participating marketers can set up a campaign to target keywords similarly to setting up a search: enter specific keywords, choose the phrase match or unordered keyword match option, specify other targets like geographic location, device, and gender, and start promoting.

Wearable and gear-mountable camera manufacturer GoPro already gave the new system a spin, and achieved what Malhotra called "promising results." After testing keyword targeting across four marketing campaigns, the company garnered close to two million impressions and engagement rates as high as 11 per cent on Promoted Tweets.

The keyword targeting function is available in the full Twitter Ads UI and through the Ads API, in all languages and markets where Twitter Ads are supported.

Rival social network Facebook recently expanded its advertising platform to allow for ads based on your purchase history across desktop and mobile.