Twitter Ads

How To Set Up Your First Twitter Video Advertising Campaign

Something extraordinary happened on Twitter recently. It wasn’t the latest Trump tweet. Or an uproar over a dress.

Twitter turned a profit. After over a decade in business and five years since it went public, Twitter’s net profit in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $91.1 million.

And it just reported another quarter of profits. Two in a row!

So what’s to account for this change? It’s not user growth; that’s stayed fairly flat. It might be due in part to cost-cutting. Or the switch to 280 characters could have helped.

But the thing that’s really getting credit for Twitter’s sudden profitability? It’s video.

Video ads, specifically. They’re getting much of the credit for the Q1 2018 profits – profits Twitter says will continue all the way through this year.

Download AdStage’s latest Benchmark Report to see how much advertisers paid for clicks and impressions in Q1 2018.

The awesome power of video

As you probably know already, video is “eating the internet.” And you’ve probably heard that oft-quoted stat about how video will make up 80 percent of the world’s internet traffic by 2019. So may I remind you that 2019 is eight months away?

The age of video is upon us. And whether you like being on camera or not, it’s time to embrace it.

The good news, of course, is that you don’t have to appear on camera. And it doesn’t take more than 20-30 minutes to make a viable video (for reals: I will show you how in a moment).

 And there’s every reason to start testing this new format.

 To wit:

  • “On Twitter, videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than photos” and "3 times more likely to be retweeted than GIFs" according to Twitter’s research.


  • Native Twitter videos (not links pasted in from YouTube, for example) get 2X higher recall than non-Twitter videos. 
  • Video ads now make up half of Twitter’s advertising revenue, up 21.4% from a year ago.
  • Only 11% of social media marketers advertise on Twitter, which means a) you’ve got much less competition than you would have on Facebook and b) that might be an opportunity - if your audience is a fit for this platform.
  • Click-through rate for ads on Twitter is falling a little, per our Q1 2018 Benchmark report, but they’re still up 72% Y/Y. Perhaps that jump in click-through rates last year was due to video ads?  

Types of videos to create on Twitter

Before we get into the weeds of creating and testing Twitter video ads, you’ll need to confirm they work with your overall content strategy. But given how many types of videos are being used already, it’s likely there’s a way to make this format work – and work well enough to justify paying for some promotion.

 1. Live events

This could be highlights of an event, or perhaps a one-sentence clip of a speaker at an event. Or a cameo of someone at your event saying hi.

The key characteristic of these videos is that they are of actual people on film in a real setting, and they are expressly created to build buzz about a live event.  

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 5.53.15 PM-1

 Source: Switchboard Live 

 2. Live recordings of promotions

This is you with a camera, recording a short pitch directly to your Twitter feed on video. Keep these (like all other Twitter videos) short - like 15-30 seconds.

If you want to write a script for yourself, great. Just keep it short. The average podcaster speaks around 150 words per minute. That means if you talk for 30 seconds, you’ve got 75 words for your pitch. If you talk for 15 seconds, you’ve got about 37 words. This paragraph is exactly 58 words, so plan accordingly.

 3. How-to videos 

These could be short videos, but an animated gif might also work quite nicely. Think in steps for your how-to videos. And, of course, keep it simple: Any more than 10 steps gets confusing. 

4. Explainer videos

Want to give people a nutshell explanation of what your company does, or a specific service you offer, of a specific concept in your industry? You need an explainer video. These can be great for top of the funnel content that could engage a large audience.

 5. Product videos

It could be a promo video for a product or a service you offer. Things you might want to mention:

  • Who the product/service is for
  • What problem the product/service solves
  • How it works
  • How to get it
  • How much it costs
  • A testimonial or two, or even better – a piece of user generated content from a happy customer

 6. Content promotion videos

Got a new blog post? A new ebook? A webinar or an online conference you want to promote? Write a snappy summary, put it to video and watch the engagements rise.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 5.53.54 PM-1

 Source: Wave video

 7. Recruiting videos

These answer the question, “Why it’s awesome to work here,” or showcase one employee and what they do.

 8. Stories

Can you tell a story in 6 seconds? Yes! Watch the fab TED Talk below about how stories can be distilled into six words. If six words can constitute a story, you can distill a video story into six seconds.

Of course, a 15 or 30-second video might let you tell a richer story… or you could use those first six seconds to set the story up, then get people to click through to a page on your site to hear the rest of the story.

Case studies and inspiring founder stories make for terrific video stories.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 5.55.31 PM

Source: AP Business News

 9. Your company values

Are these a little self-serving? Only if they’re not done well. People (especially millennials) care about the ethics of the companies they work for or do business with. So capture your mission or some of the ideals you aspire to on a short video. 

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 5.56.13 PM

Source: GS 10,000 Women

 10. “Friday feeling” videos

These may make more conservative companies uncomfortable, but fun office videos often get more engagement than any brand message you’ll ever put out.

Besides, this is social media – we’re supposed to act human and… social. So take a deep breath, show some personality, and make a fun video. Even if you can’t directly tie any ROI to it.

11. Vlogging

Twitter is the “micro-blogging” platform, right? So why not use it as the micro-vlogging platform.

A short “Friday thought”-style video, like the one from Dennis Shiao below, is terrific way to offer fresh content.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 5.57.16 PM

 Source: Dennis Shiao

How to optimize your videos for Twitter ads

As you saw in the stats above, “native” Twitter videos perform best. Videos optimized for Twitter also perform far better than a video that was created for, say, YouTube, and then just gets uploaded for Twitter.

 Here are the basic specs your Twitter videos should adhere to:

 1. Target your ads to content that’s as closely related to the ad as possible.

 Kinda advertising 101, right? Yep, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth being said.

Twitter calls this relevancy “endemic pairing” and as they explain, “When In-Stream Video Ads are paired endemically — as when a sports drink ad appears in front of a sports highlight clip — higher brand impact is achieved across key brand metrics.” 

2. Make your videos short. Really short. 

Those of us who remember Vine (which was only a few years ago, for goodness sake) will recognize the six-second format. Six-second videos will also automatically loop on Twitter, which is an added bonus for your brevity.

 3. Get that logo in there – early.

Make sure your logo appears somewhere in the video within the first few seconds. But please, don’t waste 3 seconds of a six second or even a 15-second video with one of those long YouTube-style intros.

4. Make your video work without sound.

85% of videos played on Facebook are played without the audio on. Twitter users probably aren’t all that different in this regard.

 So… no talking head videos without captions, at the very least. And you’d do better to use really simply strong graphics and images. 

5. Keep your message simple.

If you’ve been crafting messages for awhile, this is kinda a no-brainer, but it’s something we could all do well to tattoo on our foreheads: Simply your message. Nope – simplify it again. And again.

 Simplify your message until it fits on a baseball hat… or inside a six-second video.

 6. Create Twitter-native/optimized videos.

This is just due diligence. Don’t cut corners: optimize your videos for Twitter. It’ll pay off, as the chart below shows:  

Here are some other specs you’ll need to know for optimized videos:

  • Nothing longer than 140 seconds.
  • Twitter allows three video orientations: Landscape, Square and Portrait. The aspect ratios for those are 16:9 (for landscape), 1:1 (for square) and 9:16 (for portrait).
  • Maximum file size is 512 MB
  • Recommended video formats are MP4 for web, MOV for mobile

 7. Use GIFs.

Twitter users have a particular affinity to animated gifs, and gifs can often do nearly as well as video content. In fact, once you start really looking at Twitter videos, you may be surprised to find that a third or more of them are actually animated gifs.

Just know this: Twitter doesn’t actually support GIF files. You have to convert them into MP4 files to upload them. Fortunately, there are plenty of free tools, like this one, that let you convert them quickly and for free.

Creating the video

If you are ready to appear on screen live, all you have to is

1. Click the tweet button from inside your Twitter account.

2. Click the live button on the next screen.

3. Type your tweet, then hit the big red “Go Live” button.

4. You’ll instantly be live, and as you record, Twitter will count the length of the video.


5. When you’re done, you’ll immediately be able to see stats on who viewed your video.

If you don’t want to appear in person, you can use any one of a hundred different video creation and editing tools.

It took me maybe 50 minutes total to create my first video, including the time spent to 

  • figure out the interface of the video tool I used
  • find some images
  • write some copy
  • put the pieces together into a simple short video

Setting up the video ads

 I chose to use promoted tweets for my video ads, so I tweeted out three different videos over the course of a few hours.

 Here’s one of them:

I created two campaigns with identical settings other than one campaign was a “promoted posts” campaign optimized for website clicks, and the other was a 

Here's what I did for each campaign:

1. Set the budget to $30 per day (the minimum)

2. Used automated bids

3. Chose three creatives, and then turned off Twitter’s network partners, so the ads would only show on Twitter profiles and search results.

4. Set the targeting for a couple of relevant countries and added one interest for “Marketing”. Then I added “ follower look alikes” for about seven Twitter accounts whose audiences would definitely be interested in the ad. Finally, I included my own followers as well. 

One thing that I did not do – and that I should have – is to add a trackable link (like a link to the video views posts. That way I could have known how many clicks my video views ads were generating.

 The results were interesting, though a little premature to make any definitive claims about.

 I got video views for 2 cents each, with a 29.52% view rate. Over just the course of a three hours, the video views campaign accrued 1,433 views.

 The link clicks campaign did not work as well. I paid $3.57 per click, which is very high compared to the average cost per click of 38 cents for ads in Q1 2018, according to AdStage’s Paid Media Benchmark Report.

Interestingly, the same piece of creative did best for both campaigns. So if I was to continue this experiment, I’d 

  • only run the top-performing video
  • keep testing the tweet copy with the top-performing video
  • add a trackable link so I could measure how many clicks my video views campaigns where generating
  • If you want more engagement from your Twitter advertising, test videos. Particularly video views campaigns with trackable links.
  • Creating video ads is only marginally harder than creating any other kind of social media ad.
  • As with any other social media ad, test different creative so when you do scale up your ad, you’ll be paying for the best-performing creative to be viewed. Even a video ad could perform badly if you try to promote a video no one likes.
  • Most of what I learned testing Twitter video ads could be applied to other social media platforms. Specifically, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. 

But just for a start, I got promising results. It’s a little hard to compare this to what I might pay on Facebook or YouTube for a video view, as Facebook measures a video view when someone watches at least 3 seconds of a video, whereas Twitter measures a view as when the video is watched for at least 2 seconds.

 To give you a better idea of how Twitter’s video metrics compare, refer to this table: 

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 6.01.27 PM

Key takeaways

  • If you want more engagement from your Twitter advertising, test videos. Particularly video views campaigns with trackable links.
  • Creating video ads is only marginally harder than creating any other kind of social media ad.
    As with any other social media ad, test different creative so when you do scale up your ad, you’ll be paying for the best-performing creative to be viewed. Even a video ad could perform badly if you try to promote a video no one likes.
  • Most of what I learned testing Twitter video ads could be applied to other social media platforms. Specifically, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
AdStage Team