Twitter has announced a new test of ads within Fleets, its take on the stories format, which will see ads inserted between Fleets as users tap through the full-screen frames.
As you can see here, Fleets ads are much like TikTok or Instagram Stories promotions, appearing between Fleets from the people you follow on the platform, and designated with a 'Promoted' tag beneath the profile info in the top left of screen. That adds another consideration for Twitter advertisers, with the prominent placement of Fleets helping to prompt further attention, while it also, for the first time, provides full-screen, vertical format ads within the app.
Well, not the very first time. Back in 2017, Twitter did experiment with full-screen video ads within Moments, but that test never took off, and none of Twitter's other ad formats offer the same, immersive, full-screen experience, which could be a new draw for marketers.
And interestingly, within its announcement, Twitter notes that it may look to bring similar full-screen ad experiences to other elements within the app.
"As we experiment on this new surface for ads, we’ll take a close look at how vertical, full-screen ads perform on Twitter. We want to understand how this content performs for customers not just for Fleet ads, but for future iterations of full-screen formats on Twitter. We also believe that ads should be non-intrusive and bring value to people, so we’re focused on learning more about how people feel about and engage with this new placement."
So it may be that we end up seeing expandable tweet ads, which take up the full-screen from a tweet, or other ad formats linked to Twitter's evolving product offerings that provide similar capacity.
Which could be far more interesting than Fleets ads in isolation - because while Fleets seemingly has potential as an add-on element for Twitter, we don't have a heap of insight, as yet, as to how users are warming to the option - i.e. whether anyone actually cares about Fleets and is engaging with the format regularly.
In the company's most recent earnings call in late April, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to an investor question about the performance of Fleets, explaining that:
"We're seeing some new activity and new demographics utilizing Fleets. [We launched Fleets] to solve the problem of people not wanting to Tweet because they feared it staying around too long. And for that use case, it is working very well. And then it certainly has taken on -- it certainly has seen a different audience than we normally see. But we still have much to learn and a lot to figure out in terms of like where it goes from here."
Which doesn't sound overly optimistic - it doesn't seem like Twitter has been blown away by the usage of Fleets at this stage. But then again, as Twitter has explained previously, the aim of Fleets is to provide more options for content sharing, without the fear, as Dorsey says, of it being held against them at a later date, which has become an increasing concern in various respects.
In this sense, Twitter says that it has seen benefits:
"Initial tests in Brazil, Italy, India, and South Korea showed that people with Fleets were more likely to Tweet, and that they create more content in the form of Fleets, Tweets, and Direct Messages than people without Fleets, resulting in measurable increases in both original content production and the number of new content producers."
Which is good, in a broader engagement sense for the platform. But for advertisers, what they really want to know is how many people are Fleets reaching, and who, specifically is engaging with the format, in order to get an understanding of whether it's actually worth buying Fleets ads.
Which, we don't know, so it's hard to say whether this will be a viable consideration or not, as yet, but we can likely expect Twitter to provide some more concrete stats on Fleets usage at some stage in the near future as it looks to expand Fleets ads, and monetize the format.
In terms of ad specifics, Fleets ads will support images and video in 9:16, while video ads can be up to 30 seconds long. Brands will also be able to add a “swipe-up” call-to-action, as you can see in the examples above. In terms of metrics, Twitter will provide data on impressions, profile visits, clicks and website visits, along with video views, 6s video views, starts, completes and quartile reporting.
It could be a good option, but really, without usage data, it's difficult to put a measure on it at this stage. Then again, if you're already experimenting with similar, full-screen format promotions on Instagram or TikTok and you were looking to test it out, it could be worth a trial once it becomes available to you.
Twitter will launch the initial test of Fleets ads with selected partners in the US from today, on both iOS and Android, with more regions to follow soon.