In a blog post last week, Twitter announced that it is going to start refining the way advertisers reach their market by including filters to target by gender.
Advertisers who use Twitter’s Promoted Tweets service pay to have promotional tweets displayed in users’ feeds. The tweets are only displayed once and while users can delete individual promoted tweets from their feed by clicking a “Dismiss” link they can’t opt out of seeing them altogether.
Up till now Twitter has allowed advertisers to filter Twitter users by location and interest but they have now added a gender filter to the equation. The odd thing is, when you open a Twitter account you don’t have to specify a gender – and of course the thousands of businesses using the social media site don’t have genders either – so how does this new filter work?
According to Twitter’s blog the company will be studying users’ names to identify whether they are likely to be male or female. Some names are obviously one gender or another but others, such as Chris and Pat, could be used by both men and women, and business names are likely to have no identifiable gender.
However, Twitter will also be looking for other markers, such as the language that people use in their tweets or the accounts they follow, to further determine the gender of members. And if they aren’t confident about a user’s gender that user will be exempt from receiving gender-targeted ads altogether.
Twitter’s view is that being able to define users by gender as well as location and interest benefits both advertisers and users, as Promoted Tweets will only be seen by people likely to be interested in the content, which is ultimately in everyone’s favour.
What do you think? Have you spotted any Promoted Tweets and did you find them useful or annoying? And would you consider changing your user name or the language you use to try to avoid being targeted?
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