Apple buys Twitter ads to keep users’ eyes on the watch announcement

March 10, 2015 02:05 PM

Apple Inc. isn’t the most social retailer; it doesn’t have an official Apple Inc. Facebook or Twitter account.  

But when it hosted a high-profile event Tuesday to showcase its new Apple Watch, the retailer and manufacturer spent heavily on Twitter ads to make sure consumers seeking information about its new product wouldn’t get derailed by rivals’ efforts to capitalize on the event by including event-related hashtags in their posts and buying ads related to the news. Apple used Twitter’s promoted trend ad unit to make “Apple Event” the top-trending topic on the social network and bought promoted tweets for such keywords as “Apple Watch” and “AppleTV.”

The decision to buy Twitter ads was largely a reaction to past Apple releases when competitors like Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola bought Twitter ads—both promoted trends and promoted posts—to make consumers seeking information about Apple’s new release aware of other products. For example, when Apple launched the iPad Air in 2013, five tablet rivals bought iPad-related keywords.

That type of event hijacking or “brand-jacking” isn’t unique to Apple announcements, says Jim Tobin, president of Ignite Social Media, a social media marketing agency.

“Attacking competitors’ big news by hijacking Twitter trends has become the thing to do, particularly in the hypercompetitive tech industry,” he says.

Apple’s defensive move was expensive—AdWeek has reported that a promoted trend buy alone costs $200,000—but smart, Tobin says.

“When you’ve invested so much in a new product category, new product launch and new product advertising, to not check this box would’ve been a mistake,” Tobin says.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the Apple Watch “the most personal device we have ever created.” It is the first major product the company has released since former CEO Steve Jobs died. Ensuring that consumers seeking information on Twitter about a product’s features and pricing can actually find it is important, Tobin says. Not only did Apple largely block competitors from capitalizing on its announcement, the company helped Twitter users find information.





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