Twitter’s local head of agency hasn’t seen a significant pullback in ad spend

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 15 June 2020
Emily Foat

Agencies haven’t shied away from Twitter throughout the coronavirus pandemic despite a widespread pullback on advertising, says the platform’s head of agency Emily Foat.

Foat, who has been with the social media company since 2016, stepped into the newly-created role in March in response to a maturing local market.

She works with the major holding companies, providing data and education on the media landscape to assist with their marketing and says starting as head of agency just as the pandemic was unfolding was perfect timing.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, which has caused economic uncertainty, traditional media companies have faced falling advertising revenues as brands tighten marketing budgets. According to the latest SMI figures, media agency bookings fell 35.4% in April to $331.13 million.

But while traditional media has been hit hard, digital platforms have fared better, with Foat saying she hasn’t seen the pullback in spend reported in traditional media happen with Twitter.

“It’s been quite the opposite,” Foat says. “We’ve had some incredible campaigns and one of my two favourites last month would be Lego through Initiative.

“We went to them with an insight that on the 4th of May people come to Twitter to talk about Star Wars. We know that this conversation is going to be strong and people are going to be looking for that light-hearted entertainment conversation, while they’re working from home or in isolation.”

After Lego launched a campaign around the date, its Star Wars Lego collection sold out, boosted by people looking for ways to keep entertained during lockdowns.

Like many media platforms during lockdowns, Twitter experienced a spike in users. Monestisable daily active users were up by 24% year-on-year and video consumption up by 37%.

“Twitter wasn't just a COVID conversation,” Foat says. “There was lots of conversations that were happening outside of COVID.

“The COVID conversation makes up for only 4.2 % of the total conversation on Twitter right now in Australia and the conversation peaked on our platform on March 17 in Australia.

“We did see all these new conversations, the rise of the home cook was a massive one. We saw 102% increase in cooking and baking recipe conversations. And then entertainment continues to be our number one topic of conversation.”

As Australia emerges from strict lockdown measures, agencies have returned to planning campaigns for clients into the future, particularly for industries such as state tourism and football.

To meet an increase in demand from marketers wanting to better understand how to advertise on the platform, the social media company launched its Twitter Flight School in April.

“So I think during COVID and since COVID, agency people have really wanted to upskill and take this time to really grow and develop,” Foat says.

“So this has been a great program for them to do. In May we had over 60 agency marketers complete their full Twitter certification, which has been incredible and the feedback's been really positive.”

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