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Twitter embraces ad retargeting

Twitter has announced it will soon be delivering ads to users based on their browsing habits across third-party sites.

Retargets over retweets

The process, known as ad retargeting, uses information from cookies (data stored in the web browser) to deliver custom ads based on users' preferences and web history.

In a blog post explaining the change, Twitter used the example of a local florist wanting to advertise a Valentine's Day special.

Using retargeting the florist could display ads, through promoted tweets, to Twitter users who had visited their website or subscribed to their newsletter. 

Privacy checks

Twitter explains that it will match scrambled, unreadable email addresses with information on its own database to deliver targeted ads to marketers. Twitter will not give marketers any additional user information.

Twitter users can also opt out of the service by unchecking the 'Promoted content' box under account settings.

It is worth noting that only users who visit the web version of Twitter will receive retargeted ads, as mobile apps cannot insert identifying cookies on users.

Big data

Twitter isn't the first platform to offer the service. Google and Yahoo have long tracked user movements across the web, while Facebook introduced ad retargeting when it launched its ad exchange, FBX, last year.

Facebook's offering is more sophisticated than Twitter's, allowing ads to be matched to users through their email and phone numbers. Ads on FBX can also be targeted in real time. 

At the moment ad retargeting is only available in the US. But watch this space. 

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