I don't sell advertising on this site, but I'm not above advertising this site elsewhere. To that end, I took the time to run a quick experiment using Twitter's new "Sponsored Tweets" functionality.

I'm less than impressed with the results.

The Campaign

I wrote an article yesterday that I wanted to drive some additional traffic towards. Since most of my traffic comes from Twitter, and the demographic that frequents Twitter is also one that tends to be interested in my topic of choice, I figured Sponsored Tweets would be an interesting way to attract that traffic.

I built the campaign around a Tweet I'd made earlier in the day:


Since the article was about net neutrality, I configured the campaign to target people similar to followers of @Comcast and @GoogleFiber.

I further refined the target to users interested in computer networking, network security, open source, and tech news. They had to speak English.[ref]This wasn't my requirement, I wanted a much more general filter but Twitter required me to pick a language. Since the article was in English, I went with English.[/ref] I also targeted users in the United States.[ref]Again, not my choice - Twitter required me to pick a region.[/ref]

This presented me with a potential audience of 2 million Twitter users.

I set a reasonable budget for the campaign (no more than $50 per day), but was completely shocked by the suggested bid for sponsoring a Tweet - Twitter suggested $1.50-$2.50 per engagement for my ad.

This seemed a bit ridiculous, but I bit because I wanted to test the platform.

The Results

The traffic impact on my site during yesterday's experiment was ... minimal.

The campaign created a total of 4,809 "impressions" of my ad - the number of time my sponsored Tweet appeared in others' timelines. Unfortunately, those impressions only resulted in 45 total "engagements" with my content.

An engagement is:

  • A link click (44)
  • A re-tweet
  • A reply
  • A new follower (1)

With only 45 engagements, my conversion rate was only 0.94%. Consider a 1% conversion is considered "good" by many, this seems to be a quality campaign. Except for a couple of tiny details:

My blog averages 10 times this amount of traffic. Over the same time period. For free.[ref]I paid a total of $30.56 for my 45 visitors. That's $0.68 each ... I'll stick with the free traffic.[/ref]

I also forgot that, like me, many people in my target demographic also hate ads.


Consider this, I paid more than some pay in a month for hosting, to gain fewer visitors than I gain in a day for free, and accidentally alienated influential members of my target demographic in the process.

I won't be using Sponsored Tweets any time soon ...