Twitter’s Digital Upfront: what we learnt

Posted on Thursday 13 October 2022 | IAB UK

From new Twitter tools, to how Gen Z are using the platform, the team brought us a fascinating and insightful update at their central London HQ

There were two main focuses of Twitter’s 2022 Digital Upfront: how is Twitter driving people to buy? And how are Gen Z using the platform? With 238 million people worldwide on Twitter daily - a figure up 15% year-on-year according to Director of Planning, David Wilding - there’s no debating that Twitter has a huge and growing audience. But this event was all about honing in on how brands can use Twitter to drive tangible results and reach a much-in-demand Gen Z demographic. Here’s a round-up of what we learnt. 


Conversations are our superpower

According to Wilding, brands use Twitter for three things: to launch something new, to connect with what’s happening, and to drive people to buy. With people coming to the platform to discuss everything from who’s left Downing Street to who’s left Strictly, Twitter can learn from the conversations happening on the platform and optimise advertising accordingly. As Chris Bailes, Head of Agency Sales UK, put it: “We’ve got conversation. It’s our superpower.” 

This has led to the development of a new performance advertising tool, Site visit optimisation, which is dedicated to finding and serving brands’ ads to audiences most likely to visit their website. What’s more, Twitter lends itself to the booming eCommerce market - Tweets about shopping get 2.7x more impressions than average, and 76% of Tweeters said conversations on the platform had resulted in them purchasing a product.


Chris Bailes speaking at Twitter IAB UK Upfront


Tweets mean business

A suite of new measurement tools was also shared at Twitter’s Upfront with Zoe Steele, Associate Manager, Performance Specialists, talking us through how brands can effectively track their performance campaigns. First up, Twitter Pixel is a new measurement solution that allows conversion tracking, enabling advertisers to measure their return on ad spend by tracking the actions people take after viewing, clicking or engaging with ads on Twitter. The new version allows brands to measure more actions and better understand the impact of their web campaigns. 

In addition, Conversion API (CAPI) enables advertisers to connect to Twitter’s API endpoint and send conversion events to Twitter from their servers without using third-party cookies. It can also help improve optimisation and ad targeting without the need for a Twitter Pixel, which is the first time an advertiser can finally connect data to see conversions without placing a tag on their site.

Both of these measurement solutions prepare Twitter for a lower funnel-focused Q4, highly anticipating  the launch of Web Conversion Optimisation and Dynamic Product Ads coming at the end of this month.

Twitter Upfront Speaker


Twitter is where Gen Z work things through

“Born into tumultuous times - a post 9/11 world - and born into the internet” is how Sara Picazo, Head of EMEA Ad Research, described Gen Z, the generation aged 10-25. With Twitter reaching 70% of 18-24s in July 2022, it’s significant to note that 25% of all Tweets came from this age group. Unlike Millennials, who tend to “lurk” on the platform, Gen Z actively engages in conversations and shares their views. And while Millennials are very attuned to cancel culture, Gen Z is more forgiving of people if they are willing to learn from their mistakes, seeing Twitter as a place to “grow in public”.

So how are Gen Z using the platform? Twitter’s research shows that this generation comes to Twitter to work things through, learn at their own pace, stir things up, stand up for the causes they believe in, and - of course - laugh. Bringing a Gen Z view to proceedings were Elaine Owusu-Deborah (@elainebabey) and Kwajo Tweneboa (@KwajoHousing), both Twitter creators who spoke on a panel with Matthew Evans, Associate Creator Content Manager, Next Content. Owusu-Deborah shares tours of London boroughs with her followers, mixing humour with astute social commentary. Meanwhile, Tweneboa raises awareness of dilapidated social housing conditions across the capital. 

They discussed how Twitter manages to be a place for breaking news, light-hearted content, and debate. As Tweneboa said, if a news story is breaking “you used to find out about it on the 6 O’Clock news. Now it’s on Twitter beforehand”. Meanwhile, Owusu-Deborah perfectly encapsulated how “Love Island and Twitter go hand-in-hand” with Tweet-a-long commentary as an embedded part of the viewing experience. 

Both also shared examples of using Twitter to spark broader conversations. Owusu-Deborah explained how a Tweet she made to the passport office resulted in a debate about the racial bias of AI, while Tweneboa used Twitter to challenge the head of Wandsworth council over the state of housing in the borough. 

Ultimately, they agreed that how Gen Z uses Twitter reflects what they’re passionate about. Tweneboa explained: “When people say that young people aren’t very engaged, they are…  you see it on Twitter.” To that end, brands that resonate with them on the platform are the ones that focus on issues they care about, such as NIKE, or brands that “put people behind their social accounts that are like us and hilarious with it”, such as Ryan Air.


Attendees taking selfie


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