Twitter will hand out awards to spark advertiser interest, investment

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There are two ways to get someone to do something: Encourage them with some kind of carrot or command them with some sort of stick. With an ad business beset by lower-than-expected demand from advertisers, Twitter can’t take a stick to marketers to make them buy its ads. So it’s holding out a carrot.

Twitter has organized an awards program to highlight the top ads that have run on its service in the past year, the company announced on Monday.

This is what companies do when they need to spark excitement in their ad products. Facebook did the same thing back in 2012, a few months before the social network went public and while it was trying to shed its reputation, at the time, for offering a limited creative canvas to brands.

That’s why the timing of Twitter’s first-ever ad awards is maybe not coincidental. The company is coming off the second straight quarter in which it had to admit that it received “less overall advertiser demand than expected,” despite its one-time rival, Facebook, seeing “particularly strong” demand in the same quarter.

To boost its ad business, Twitter has recognized that it needs to reignite brand advertisers’ interest in its ads by showcasing its creative canvas and attract direct-response advertisers’ interest by proving its ads drive results. The Twitter Awards seek to satisfy both ends.

Submitted campaigns — limited to ads that have run on Twitter between August 1, 2015, and July 26, 2016 — will be judged according to three criteria: live, results and canvas. I haven’t heard back from Twitter with a detailed explanation of the criteria, but they seem pretty self-explanatory. Twitter wants to showcase ads that demonstrate how in-the-moment Twitter is (which fits with Twitter’s own new ad campaign), how Twitter’s ads can drive business results and how creative marketers can get with Twitter’s ads.

The six categories for which Twitter will be handing out awards are even more explicit about what messages it wants marketers to take away from the awards when winners are announced on November 10.

  • #Live: the best ads that tied into live events and global moments
  • #Impact: the ads that drove the best business results
  • #Creativity: the most creative ads
  • #Scale: the ads that best showed how big a worldwide ripple effect Twitter can create
  • #Customer: the brands that best used Twitter for customer service
  • #Growth: the small businesses that used Twitter ads to grow their companies the most

Twitter will have a panel of not-yet-named judges scoring submissions and, for each category, will hand out one Gold Award, two Silver Awards, three Bronze Awards and at least one Honorable Mention. Brands and agencies can go here to submit as many eligible campaigns as they want between now and September 23.

Twitter isn’t clear about what the winners will receive — other than “major bragging rights” — but prizes may include some type of trophy or plaque; name-drops on Twitter, Twitter’s site for marketers and/or its advertiser-training program Twitter Flight School; and “a special digital presence at Twitter headquarters.” But it is clear what Twitter hopes to receive from the awards program: more interest and investment from advertisers.

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