Hacking Twitter Ads: Mastering Twitter’s Secret Quality Adjusted Bids Algorithm

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Hacking Twitter Ads: Mastering Twitter’s Secret Quality Adjusted Bids Algorithm

If you’ve ever read any of my articles on PPC marketing using AdWords, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of their Quality Score algorithm—which, in a nutshell, rewards advertisers who create very engaging ads with much lower costs per click and more prominent ad placement. This makes a ton of sense because obviously Google doesn’t want to annoy their users with low-quality ads.

Just this year, Facebook introduced a Quality Score of its own, called Relevance Score, that determines your ad cost and placement on Facebook. But what about Twitter? Does the Twitter ad platform employ a similar algorithm for rewarding the most engaging ads and punishing junk ads?

Recently I discovered the existence of a Quality Score in Twitter Ads (or “Quality Adjusted Bids” as Twitter sometimes refers to it) and in my post today, I’m going to share with you several ways to maximize your ROI on Twitter Ads by hacking this algorithm that Twitter uses to decide if your ads should be displayed or not, and how much you pay if people engage with your ads.

What is Twitter Ads Quality Adjusted Bids and Why Does it Matter?

Twitter Ads does indeed leverage a Quality Score of its own and although there was no formal announcement, Twitter has recently confirmed that they use it. Check this out—it’s buried in a new section in the Twitter Ads Help documentation:

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

A few months ago, this section of the guide didn’t exist!

So what does Twitter Ads Quality Score actually do and how do you find out if your Quality Scores are any good?

Well for starters, you can’t actually see your “Quality Adjusted Bid” in your Twitter Ads Manager—it remains a hidden internal metric for now.

Regardless, Twitter Quality Adjusted Bid isn’t some arbitrary metric you can ignore, believe me. My research shows that, as with Google AdWords, increasing Quality Score on your Twitter Ads actually earns you a huge “click discount”:

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

In fact, on average,  for every one point increase in the engagement rates of your ads, you see a 5% decrease in cost per engagement.

What does this mean for your Twitter Ads campaigns?

Well, if you can get engagement rates up to 60% or so, the cost per engagement becomes one penny. If you can get it to 36%, it’s two pennies. Check this out:

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

As your engagement rate and therefore your Quality Score continues to fall to 7%, you’re talking more like eight cents—an 800% change.

If your engagement is really awful, like say 0.14%, you’re paying a whopping $2.50 per engagement, as shown here:

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

Yikes. That’s over 250 times more expensive than promoting a high engagement ad! Why overpay for your ads like that when you could just as easily boost your Twitter Quality Scores and get way better rates?

I’m going to show you how to do just that. Ready?

How to Hack the Twitter Ads Quality Score Algorithm in 3 Steps

1. Stay Fresh

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

The above snapshot from Twitter Ads’ Engagement panel shows the number of Twitter impressions accrued by one of my Twitter ad campaigns. Notice how the number of ad impressions per day declines over time. Twitter wants to show users the freshest content so, as time goes on, they’re less and less likely to bother showing my promoted tweet.

Why would Twitter want to aggressively show content that’s over a week old? Keep in mind that ads on social are going to fatigue pretty quickly and you should plan different variations more often, rather than running the same ones for lengthy periods.

2. Promote Your Winners

Rather than paying over $2 a click for promoting low-engagement crap, promote your tweets that are already doing well.

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

With this tweet, for example, I ended up getting 1,500 retweets and 100,000 visits referred from Twitter to that piece of content—and all for $250. Crazy!

The thing is, using paid promotion of high-engagement tweets on Twitter will often give your organic performance a boost, because people will want to share this awesome tweet they’re seeing with their own networks. You don’t pay for the RTs and engagements it gets after that.

On the other hand, if you’re promoting content no one wants to engage with or share, you’re going to pay more for each click, and you’re going to see little, if any, free organic engagement.

I don’t promote every tweet—far from it. I promote the top 1-3% of status updates with 15% or greater engagement rates, which typically results in Cost Per Engagement of one penny when I do.

3. Narrow Your Targeting

You’re going to kill your engagement and Quality Score if you’re blasting your tweets to too wide an audience.

Remember, relevance is key to engagement. Go after micro-audiences of 100,000, or even 10,000, people using Twitter’s super powerful ad targeting options.

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

Twitter offers a ton of demographics targeting and there are many other amazing Twitter Ads targeting strategies you can use: keyword targeting, Twitter remarketing, device targeting, and Partner and Lookalike Audiences.

Here’s an example of how I was able to increase tweet engagement to a local event over 3.5 times by leveraging geo-targeting—in this case, by narrowing the ad targeting people who live in South Florida:

Mastering Twitter Ads | Search Engine Journal

You can’t afford not to pay attention to the way Twitter ranks and prices your ads. Now go, optimize your Twitter Ads campaigns for Quality Score, and tweet me to let me know how you make out!


This post originally appeared on Wordstream, and is re-published with permission.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Larry Kim
In-post Photo: Image by Wordstream
All screenshots by Larry Kim. Taken November 2015.

Larry Kim

Larry Kim

CTO and Founder at WordStream
Larry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. Today he serves as company CTO and is a contributor to both the product team and marketing teams. Larry... Read Full Bio
Larry Kim
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  • Thomas Flannagan

    I haven’t heard about Twitter Quality Score, thanks for the useful info!

  • Siri Innovations

    Really it was a nice post to run the ads in the twitter with a best quality and the clients has also bid the ads based on the quality and increase their brand.

  • Husnain Abbas

    Hey Larry, Thanks for sharing this awesome post. Let me try it. 😀

  • dinesh

    this is awesome post…great

  • sattamatkapress

    i feel better after reading this blog, thank you for the grate post…

  • nandy

    helpful info regarding twitter ads running and quality score… thanks..