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Twitter Joins The Scramble For Holiday Season Retail Ads

The social network says it is best equipped to get users to buy certain products this holiday season.

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With just a few days left before the start of America's holiday shopping frenzy, Internet companies are scrambling to convince retailers that they are the go-to place to reach shoppers.

Twitter, as part of that push, is out with a blog post today that shows the correlation between conversations on the social network and actual purchases. The company put out a graphic showing changes in the volume of Twitter conversations about buying TVs and laptops closely correlating to actual sales volumes during November and December last year. It also shared results from a 2,100-person survey conducted by DB5 in August that showed more than half of Twitter users learned about products on the social network and went on to purchase them.

"When we think about our users, there's a lot that kind of differentiates the mindset from when they're on other platforms," J.J. Hirschle, Twitter's director of retail, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. Because it's "live and public and conversational, it fuels a kind of passion for discovery on the platform. This notion of it being actually in the moment lends to us being more connected not only outside of the store, but inside the store as well."

The fourth quarter for retailers, which includes November through the end of January, is incredibly important, and can make up more than one-third of a company's annual revenue. Thus, advertising is significant, and companies from Facebook to Google jostle for attention during the season. Twitter, as a relatively nascent public company, has quite a bit of incentive to shine in the next few months.

A number of retailers have already launched Twitter campaigns tied to the holidays, aiming to work within these findings. Best Buy, for example, has been asking users what gadgets they want this holiday season with the #HintingSeason hashtag, a play on "hunting season." (Ha ha.)

This holiday season will also give retailers many more tools to target Twitter users, as well as use of the long-awaited "Buy" button. Kate Spade just launched a campaign around its new collaboration with Anna Kendrick, and while Hirschle didn't offer specifics on how Kate Spade is aiming to reach customers, he noted the company could theoretically target Anna Kendrick followers, people who follow other fashion designers, people who describe themselves fashionistas in their Twitter profiles, and more.

Beyond that, Twitter can use data from retailers and a variety of partners to target people identified as being interested, or especially active, in certain categories. "From a product standpoint," he said, "we are light years ahead of where we were even four months ago."

Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.

Contact Sapna Maheshwari at sapna.maheshwari@buzzfeed.com.

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