Twitter Just Made a Stronger Case for Retailers to Buy Ads

It can now be about a lot more than direct response

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Twitter today revealed that it's testing product pages that take the social site's marketing capabilities a couple steps forward—especially for retailers. The microblogging platform debuted a "buy now" button nearly 10 months ago, but now brands can develop pages with pricing and other details commonly seen on e-commerce destinations such as Amazon.

Launch partners include Target, Nike, musical artist Demi Lovato (example below), HBO, The Ellen Show and others. Such brands now seem to have a bigger reason to buy Promoted Tweets to drive sales, since the ad should not only drive consumers to their e-commerce sites but also to Twitter pages that actually let people research items.

On pages for individual items, people can see tweets and retweets from anyone marked by product-oriented hashtags, which should serve as the first organized product-reviews section ever on Twitter. Consumers can look at product photos and videos, and embrace other activities that could enhance purchase consideration for online and physical stores.

So for retailers, buying a Twitter ad suddenly has new possible benefits that go beyond the direct-response realm. If merchants actually make these collection-style pages worth visiting—which is definitely a question mark—they should, in theory, also see an uptick in direct-response sales attributable to the social site. One drawback for consumers seems to be that they will often have to click two or three times before getting to a product's purchase button.

At any rate, with its new initiative—dubbed "product and place pages" in a blog post early this afternoon—Twitter can only hope retailers experience more sales. The pages definitely create a longer Twitter sales funnel that may attract more lead-generation-minded advertisers such as automotive and real estate brands.

Meanwhile, Twitter is likely looking over its figurative shoulder these days as Wall Street has become increasingly impatient with the micro-blogging platform's growth. And because of such investor-based friction, the San Francisco-based tech company is looking for a CEO to replace outgoing chief Dick Costolo.

Getting retailers to spend more ad budget on Twitter would certainly help turn around the tech player's troubled narrative.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.