This month Twitter unveiled Moments, the simplified way of browsing tweets that the company hopes will return it to rapid growth. It's an increasingly pressing concern: today the company announced it added just 4 million new monthly users in its most recent quarter, news that sent the stock tumbling. Before releasing Moments, Twitter said its release would be accompanied by a large-scale marketing campaign designed to reach people who had never used Twitter before, or who had tried and abandoned it years ago. Today, that marketing campaign arrives, led by a series of television advertisements that will debut tonight during the World Series.
"Post-Season," which you can see above, is a 30-second spot aimed at sports enthusiasts. In a fast-moving series of clips, the ad showcases highlights of the Major League Baseball playoffs as they appeared in real tweets. There's the viral bat flip of the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista, a GIF representing the billy goat that cursed the Chicago Cubs, and a spectacular catch from the Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar. The ad is animated, but the text from fans' tweets is preserved in each moment. The ad is set to upbeat music and moves a little faster than you can really read anything — the young people who are the ad's target audience prefer it that way, Twitter says, and the rest of us will still be noticing new things when we see it for the 14th time.
From the ad agency behind Apple's "1984"
The agency behind the spots is TBWA\Chiat\Day; Chiat\Day famously created the "1984" ad that introduced the Macintosh for Apple. Twitter declined to say how much money its spending to put these ads on the air, but executives say the ads will be airing regularly in prime time. Anthony Noto, Twitter's chief financial officer, told The Verge in an interview that the campaign's goal is to let targeted segments of potential users see the stuff that's on Twitter every day — "using their interests as hooks, rather than Twitter itself as the hook," he said.
Kathryn Apte, who leads consumer product marketing at Twitter, said Moments had been built with marketing in mind. The company has identified five core groups of people who don't use Twitter — it would only share two with me, sports enthusiasts and the 18- to 24-year-old women it calls "social connectors" — and Moments is designed to appeal to them.
How powerful can TV ads be for tech?
How powerful can television advertising be for a tech company? Apple aside, Twitter notes that TV ads are credited with helping Google's Chrome rise from third-place browser to No. 1. Lapsed Twitter users may be surprised to see just how many of their interests are represented on the platform today, and ads could drive them to give it another look. Twitter's campaign also extends beyond TV — it's doing paid search and mobile app install ads as well, including some on its own platforms. But its TV ads are the flashiest part of the campaign. (Twitter ran a TV ad during a NASCAR event in 2012, but it was a one-off thing, the company says.)
There's one more interesting shift here. After years of chasing audience by telling people everything they could ever want was on Twitter, the company has decided to go after individual segments of that audience in an effort to turn them into evangelists for the platform. Some people use Twitter mostly for sports; others mostly for celebrities and entertainment. Twitter sees its best hope as reaching those people on their own terms. Moments, and the ads that promote it, represent the start of that attempt. "We need to meet the needs of individuals, as opposed to everyone," Noto said.
Updated to note that Twitter previously ran a one-off TV ad in 2012.
Verge Video: Twitter Moments