By Vlad Vidaeff
 
Twitter recently introduced conversational ads that “make it even easier for consumers to engage with and then spread a brand’s campaign message.”  Historically, polls have been one method that marketers use to conduct market research.  From the consumer’s perspective, polls and quizzes are often a fun activity.  Who hasn’t taken one of BuzzFeed’s fun quizzes at some point or another?  Twitter’s conversational ads take aspects of polls and adjust them to the social media setting.  This blog will discuss the framework of conversational ads and how they can be of benefit to brands.
 
Samsung4Conversational ads include call to action buttons with customizable hashtags to encourage consumer engagement.  On a simplistic level, a marketer crafts a tweet asking a question as you would when crafting a poll.  The call-to-action buttons give consumers the opportunity to select the answer (which both include hashtags) that they agree with.  When the consumer selects one of the two call-to-action buttons, a pre-composed tweet with a brand message pops up.  Consumers can then tweet out the pre-composed message or personalize the message before sharing it with their followers.  After the conversational ad is tweeted out, the consumer receives a message from the brand thanking them for participating.
 
What makes conversational ads interesting is the intersection between giving the marketer enough control to manage its message with a certain level of influence and giving the consumer the opportunity to personalize their experience with the brand.  Through conversational ads, marketers can encourage discussions about their products, services, events, etc.  Even though consumers can alter or add to the tweet, the conversation is largely shaped by the brand through predetermined brand messages and hashtags.  Even though the ads are still in beta testing, Samsung Canada has tested two conversational ads.  The company was largely pleased with the ads as they resulted in 53,000 media engagements and 484 occurrences of its hashtags during a four-day period.  These metrics are five times the brand’s average Twitter engagement rate.
 
Will the control that the brand has over the messaging surrounding the ad turn some consumers away?  While this is certainly possible, the ease and functionality of this ad format facilitates consumer interaction.  By allowing consumers to personalize the message, they will not feel as if they are simply retweeting a brand’s content: they are now becoming part of the message.  Especially with brands that consumers have a certain level of brand loyalty with, conversational ads offer the experience of sharing opinions and interacting with a brand in an authentic way.  From the marketer’s perspective, conversational ads’ main benefit is that they aid in increasing exposure and reach as well as spurring interaction around particular hashtags.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think Twitter’s conversational ads will be a #success or #failure?