Twitter will let brands target ads based on the emojis people use ?????

Twitter's move to allow brands to target ads based on the emojis included in tweets isn't so weird if you consider emojis another type of keyword.

Chat with MarTechBot


Today is June 15, not April 1, which means this is a real thing that’s happening. Twitter is going to let brands target ads based on the emojis that people include in their tweets.

This means that if you tweet, retweet, like or reply to a tweet that includes ?, you might end up seeing an ad for Charmin. No joke; I hope that happens. And if you’re a brand that wants to do that kind of thing, you can. You just have to buy your Twitter ads through AdParlor, Amobee, HYFN, Perion, SocialCode or 4C. Again, these are real things now happening.

This all sounds ridiculous, but it’s not really (right?). Emojis have become a really popular way for people to communicate, to the point that ? was the freaking word of the year in 2015 and people have pasted more than 110 billion emojis into tweets since 2014, according to Twitter.

With all seriousness, being able to target people based on emojis isn’t that different from being able to target people based on keywords. In internet parlance, ? and the word “love” are synonyms. There’s even emoji slang, and sometimes emojis can communicate something that’s difficult to put into words, like ?.

If anything, Twitter may not be going far enough with its initial rollout of emoji-based targeting. For example, brands can’t target more than one emoji at a time, meaning that basketball-related brands won’t be able to target Olympic audiences who tweet or interact with two-character tweets that are as simple as “??” after LeBron lights someone up (assuming he goes to Rio). And only official Unicode emoji characters can be targeted for now (Sorry, Kimoji users).

Is targeting ads based on those pictographs weird? Sure. But so were emojis a few years ago.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.