How Twitter Nailed its Promoted Trend Spotlight Launch | Adzerk

How Twitter Nailed its Promoted Trend Spotlight Launch

Chris Shuptrine
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Product managers know that no newly-released feature sees instant adoption - it’s a process of education and storytelling. It’s the same with any new ad unit you launch - even current advertisers may not see the benefit without a concerted marketing push.

It’s no surprise, then, why Twitter invests so much time and energy into the launch of any new ad unit, as seen in their recently-released Promoted Trend Spotlight.

Twitter's launch plan offers a playbook that other companies can follow to ensure quicker adoption of any ad feature.

Twitter's New Promoted Trend Spotlight Ad

On January 6, 2020, Twitter announced the public launch of Promoted Trend Spotlights - a takeover video/banner ad at the top of their Explore tab. It supports six-second videos/GIFs or static images, on both mobile and desktop.

While publicly released, the unit is not accessible in their self-serve platform, so for the time being can be bought only by those large enough to have a Twitter Client Partner.

twitter promoted trend
twitter promoted trend

What Twitter's product announcement did well

For any new ad feature, you’ll no doubt release a blog post / documentation guide. But creating a guide is not enough - you must also create a story of why it’s a must-use feature, with data to back it up.

Twitter accomplished this well in their blog announcement, thanks to four key factors:

They identified what pain point the new ad unit solved

When you start designing a new ad unit, it’s important to ask yourself, “Do advertisers want this - or do I just think it’s cool?”

Advertisers will spend with you only if they perceive the value to be worth the hassle (let’s not forget - it’s much easier to increase spending on Google and Facebook then to incorporate a third ad platform).

For Twitter, it’s clear they built Promoted Trend Spotlights knowing the problem it solved: getting to the top of the trending page organically requires planning, money, and plenty of luck.

Their explainer video touches upon this pain point before offering a solution: you can now pay to appear at the top of the Explore tab - no need to worry about elaborate marketing campaigns that never go viral.

Twitter even came up with a tagline for the new ad unit: “trending made simple”.

They created a promotional video

Their announcement features an embedded video combining images of Promoted Trend Spotlights with the problem and solution statements of above. It’s short at twenty-seven seconds, but is extremely successful in articulating the value-add.

They included Social Proof

The second paragraph of their announcement is a quotation from the VP of Digital Marketing at Disney+. They smartly don’t bury this social proof, instead centering the article around it, rightly expecting that an endorsement from the world’s hottest company would pique anyone’s interest.

twitter promoted trend
twitter promoted trend

While of course it’s not easy to secure a quotation from a $260B company, you could start much smaller.

A quote from any company - even if not recognizable - is still substantially better than no social proof at all. And if you can combine a recognizable company with a great job title and powerful quotation, even better.

They shared independent third-party analysis

Twitter waited to publicly launch Promoted Trend Spotlights until a global behavioral research company, EyeSee, completed an eye-tracking study. Twitter proudly flaunts the results:

  1. People spent 26% more time looking at the PTS as compared to the standard Promoted Trend unit
  2. Click-through-rates were 3x higher
  3. Brand recall was 113% higher

Performance marketers love data, and this is the type of information and independent validation that could push teams to prioritize getting those new ad units launched.


Promoted Trend Spotlight ads are far from the first ad unit Twitter has released, and the crispness of their product launch speaks to that. As you look to build an ad platform or release new ad units/features, it would be wise to follow Twitter and make sure you have:

  1. A concise story around why the ad unit was created and how the advertiser benefits
  2. Visuals to highlight what you’ve launched (we recommend a video)
  3. A customer quotation for social proof
  4. Concrete data around how well the unit performs


Chris Shuptrine

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