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Twitter is catching up to Facebook’s mobile game.

The company today announced it’s updating its Tailored Audiences feature so that advertisers can create target lists based on mobile numbers and mobile IDs.

The added functionality will allow your favorite brands to take information they’ve amassed about you (in this case your email and phone number) and upload it to a list on Twitter of all the people it wants to send targeted ads to. Then Twitter will give that brand and the other companies vying for your attention an opportunity to bid for a spot in your Twitter stream.


“It’s so hard to get organic reach now because there are so many people fighting for attention and using all different kinds of techniques. The best technique is using data to retarget,” says Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent, a company that develops software to place ads in digital newsletters (full disclosure: VentureBeat uses this platform for its newsletter).

Retargeting — companies using Facebook or Twitter to target consumers, rather than doing it themselves — didn’t used to be so necessary. Brands could create Twitter accounts and reach their consumers for free with tweets that would appear to their followers. But, as Hendricks said, a lot of people on Twitter are vying for your attention, so it’s not as easy as it once was to sell products on social media cachet alone.

More and more companies are trying to refine targeting capabilities, not just based on the device a consumer is using, but on specific information a brand has collected about a given consumer on customer relationship management systems. Big data is the way forward for advertising.

Facebook was really the first to endeavor into the mobile ad space with retargeted ads based on email and mobile information when it pushed into mobile a little more than two years ago. Twitter rolled out its Tailored Audience tool last December. This new feature will also includes “look-alike-only targeting,” which will allow advertisers to target consumers that are similar to the ones in their targeted lists.

Of course, Twitter will offer its users an opportunity to not be targeted through privacy settings. But Hendricks thinks that ultimately there’s no turning back from retargeted advertising. “I believe that CRM retargeting will become more widespread, but I think you’ll see it on television and web display ads. Whether you’re logged into Amazon, or Playstation, I think you’ll see CRM retargeting on all of those channels.”


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