An Overview of Twitter Ads

While Facebook is the first social ads platform many advertisers turn to, other platforms can be intimidating to learn as budgets are expanded and testing extends to include other platforms. Twitter is one such platform, and in this article I’ll provide a walkthrough of creating your account and launching your first campaign.

Setting Up Your Account

First, you’ll need to set up a Twitter Ads account. This needs to be done under the login associated with the Twitter handle you want to run ads from.

Go to and follow the steps presented to set up your ad account. If you’re an agency needing access to an existing client account, they can also share access with you.

twitter ads access

Next, you’ll want to make sure the Twitter pixel is installed on your site. Go to Tools > Conversion Tracking from the top bar, and you’ll see a screen with instructions for setting up the pixel if it’s not already set up. The easiest way to set this up on your site is to use Google Tag Manager.

Once the tag is in place, you can create conversion events from this screen, which can be configured based on a URL visited or via a tag fired on your site when an action is completed. See the previously referenced Google Tag Manager/Twitter setup article for more on setting up a custom event.

custom event twitter

Creating Your First Campaign

Once you have account access finalized and tracking in place, you can proceed to create a campaign. Click the “Create campaign” button in the upper right from the main Campaigns screen.

twitter ad creationOn the next screen, you can choose from several campaign objectives:

  • Tweet engagements
  • Promoted video views
  • Awareness
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • In-stream video views (pre-roll)
  • Followers
  • App installs
  • App re-engagements

twitter campaign objectives

Keep in mind that the objective you choose will affect what actions you’re bidding on. If you want to drive people to a landing page, “Website clicks or conversions” is your best option. If you want to drive top-of-funnel interest, try tweet engagements, video views, or awareness.

Once you select an objective, you’ll see a screen where you can walk through setting up campaign details. You need to supply a daily budget and can also set a total budget for the entire campaign duration. Also, you can control start and end dates.

twitter campaign setup

Within a campaign, you can set up multiple ad groups. Note that ad groups can also contain their own start/end times as well as total budgets.

twitter ad group setup

Next, you can choose a bid type.

  • “Automatic bid” will let Twitter optimize for the ideal cost per the action you select under “optimization preference” (link clicks or conversions).
  • “Target cost” allows you to set the average cost you want per link click
  • “Maximum bid” lets you set an absolute cap on your bid per link clicks

While the latter two options still only let you bid per link click, note that you can still choose to optimize toward link clicks or website conversions. You’ll need to make sure the Twitter pixel is in place on your site and you have an active conversion set up in order to use the conversion option.

Setting up Targeting

Under the Targeting section, you can now select the audience criteria you want to use. Twitter contains the following audience targeting options:

General Demographics

  • Gender
  • Age (by pre-established age ranges)
  • Location (country, state/province, city, or zip code)
  • Language
  • Technology: platforms, device models, and carriers

twitter ad demographics

Audience Features

  • Keywords: You can enter keywords that people recently included in their tweets, searched for, or interacted with. Note that entering a keyword will automatically also include the hashtag version of the keyword. By default, keywords are set to broad match and can include variants. While at one point you could use phrase match keywords for more precision, I didn’t see any references to anything other than broad match in Twitter’s current documentation.
  • Events/Conversation Topics/Movies and TV Shows: Target people who engage with content related to popular events such as the Super Bowl, or who talk about certain TV shows
  • Interests: Target interest categories to reach people who heavily engage with certain content
  • Follower Look-alikes: Reach people who are similar to those who follow Twitter handles you provide. Note that there is no direct way to target people who actually follow handles other than your own.

twitter ad audience features

Other options include the ability to retarget people who saw or engaged with your past tweets. This can be particularly helpful when running awareness or video campaigns to reach people who showed interest in top-of-funnel content.

Adding Creative

Under the Creatives section, you can now select the ads you’d like to run. You can choose to promote existing tweets or create new promoted-only tweets to use.

twitter ad creative

Click the “Create Tweet” button (which looks like a feather next to a plus sign) to start creating a new tweet.

create twitter ad

You can now add copy, which is bound to the same 280-character limit as a regular tweet. You can include an image, video, or poll as well.

However, the best approach, particularly when trying to get traffic to a landing page, is to use a Twitter Card. This is an asset that you create separately to associate with a tweet, and users can click it to go to a link. The third button from the left (which looks like a “stack of cards”) allows you to choose from existing Twitter Cards to associate with your promoted tweet.

If you need to create a new card, go to the Creatives dropdown and select Cards.

twitter card creation

From the page that appears, choose “Create Card.” You can then choose between a Website Card (static image card), Video Website Card, Image App Card, Video App Card.

twitter website card

Once you select the card type, you’ll see fields to upload an image/video, add a headline, and include a website URL. Make sure to add any necessary UTM parameters to track the URL.

Once you’ve saved the card, you’ll now see it available when creating a promoted tweet.

Launching Your Campaign

After creative is in place, move next to the Campaign Review screen where you can check final details for the campaign. If everything looks good, click the Launch campaign button in the upper right to get your campaign off the ground!

twitter campaign dashboard

Once your campaign’s running, you should start seeing stats show up in the main reporting screen. You can click into specific campaigns to see performance by ad group and ad level, as well as using the Audience section to see more specific demographic details. Use the Metrics dropdown to add different columns to see stats you want in the interface.

Have you used Twitter Ads, or are you just getting started? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!