Success story


Leveraging Gnip and Twitter Ads APIs for insights and ad targeting.

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Here's the tl;dr

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Affinio co-founders Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson saw an opportunity to use Twitter data to seek out new customers for their growing app business. By leveraging the Twitter Ads APIs, they translated rich content insights into direct activations through targeted ads. This helped their customers broaden their reach and perform highly-targeted direct response campaigns.


more sales opportunities with lower acquisition costs for a small B2B software firm


In 2013, Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson saw an opportunity to use the Twitter platform as a way to seek out new customers and clients for their growing app business. “As we dug deeper, we began to realize that there was a massive amount of intel in a company’s follower graph on Twitter,” notes Burke. “In particular, there were naturally forming communities, and even smaller affinity groups within that set.”

Their observation led them to invest a year analyzing Twitter follow graph data (via the public APIs) and building out core technology to quickly identify and segment these groups. From this work, Affinio was born, and their first tools — Twitter user analysis and segmentation — found early success, placing them third in the Strata Conference Startup Showcase in 2013 and helping them win early customers including Universal McCann and BBC Worldwide. “Our early product had immediate uptake, helping our customers develop a far richer persona of their target audience than they ever had before,” says Hankinson.

Listening closely to their customers, Burke and Hankinson also realized that there were opportunities to make their product even more actionable by integrating the Twitter Ads platform. “Given our core competencies, it was a natural next step to help our customers broaden their reach across the Twitter platform by expanding their customer base and performing highly-targeted direct response campaigns. We witnessed the power of this strategy ourselves, growing our Affinio customer base using our own Twitter tailored audience targeting,” says Burke.

"Our access to Twitter Data along with our integration with Twitter Ads API has enabled Affinio to translate rich content insights into direct activations through targeted ads."

Tim Burke, CEO & Founder, Affinio


Burke and Hankinson leveraged their existing work to build a collection of content insights and targeting tools to meet the needs of their customers. This required leveraging a combination of the Twitter platform, including Twitter Enterprise APIs (formerly Gnip APIs), Tailored Audiences, and the Twitter Public and Ads APIs. In particular, they focused on:

  • Lookalike group expansion. Once Affinio’s system discovers niche segments of a brand’s followers, it uses its proprietary algorithm leveraging Twitter’s API and the Twitter Enterprise Search API to match that profile across all of Twitter’s user base. This increases the user segment that a brand can then target in their Twitter advertising campaign.
  • Targeting. The user list is then ingested into Twitter’s Tailored Audience list tool for running both initial campaigns as well as follow-on remarketing campaigns on the Twitter Ads platform. Affinio uses a custom optimization engine to continuously improve its targeting based on the statistical performance of the ad campaign.
  • Content recommendation. When building a new advertising campaign, Affinio’s text analysis of Tweets via Twitter Enterprise APIs is able to offer common terms, hashtags, images and content used by that niche segment. These insights are then used to suggest copy that the user should consider to improve campaign performance, knowing that these will resonate with the target audience.
  • Multivariate testing. Affinio uses the Twitter Ads API to create multiple simultaneous campaigns with combinations of data-driven creative and copy, and statistically tracks results in real time to perform auto-optimization on behalf of the customer.

"Working with the varied Twitter APIs, including the Ads, REST, and GNIP APIs has been simple. They are all well documented and provide easy to work with output data formats making application development easy."

Stephen Hankinson, CTO & Founder, Affinio


From early results with beta partners, Burke and Hankinson have seen strong performance from their new product suite. In particular, a small B2B software firm generated 25% more high quality sales opportunities with lower acquisition costs using Affinio’s Twitter-based targeting and DR solutions compared to previous Adword campaigns. “Our proprietary Affinity Maps serve as a ‘fingerprint’ of a brand’s user tribes,” notes Burke. “And Gnip helps us go a step further, to reach similar users that may never have thought to engage with their brand before.”

Affinio’s content recommendation and Ads API integrations also fit well in the narrative of the company’s product strategy. “Customers are coming to us asking how to deliver ads that look and feel as native as possible.” says Hankinson. “Our tribe insights and content recommendations give them the ‘secret handshake’ to enter their most influential communities to drive deeper trust and engagement. The Ads API allows them to deliver authentic Tweet content directly into the timeline of new users who are perfect for their product, but might not have otherwise engaged with their brand before.


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