How Much Is Your Emoji Worth?

What ads do you get when you tweet the skull, exactly?
What ads do you get when you tweet the skull, exactly?

Did you celebrate World Emoji Day on July 17?

With so many unofficial “holidays” to keep track of these days, you might not have heard about this new addition that falls between National Macaroon Day (May 31) and National Tequila Day (July 24). As marketers, we definitely had to pay attention this time, because the day signified a new way of advertising on social media that’s sure to get people talking.

For World Emoji Day 2016, Twitter began selling emoji-based advertising. The social media platform estimates that over 110 billion emojis have been used since the start of 2014. And now we’re supposed to make the next logical leap that these reflect the user’s state of mind, and that sending them ads based on the emojis they’re using could help marketers tap into a timely mindset and boost sales.

(We’d actually love to see the data showing how many of those were used consecutively in the same post, like the rows of multicolor hearts we text each other instead of buying flowers these days. Should those repeats technically only count for one, when we’re talking marketing stats?)

Here’s an example of how it’s supposed to work: If you tweet a slice of pizza, you might see ads from a local pizza chain pop up in your feed. Hopefully, if we tweet the rainbow unicorn we’ll finally find out where we can get one of those, too! Seriously, though, pizza might make sense, but do people really want to see an ad for the local farmers market when they’re tweeting eggplant emojis? Not so much.

This news comes in light of the Oxford Dictionary adding the crying/laughing emoji as a “word of the year” in 2015, and Facebook adding “reactions” like angry and sad emojis to its posts instead of just “likes.” Social media truly seems to believe that emojis reflect emotions, that people use them meaningfully, and that marketers can communicate more effectively with people by monitoring which emojis they’re putting out into the world.

OK, maybe that’s true for a sad face or a pizza slice, but what are we going to do about that flamenco dancing lady and the shady sunglasses guy? We’re still trying to figure those two out.

Regardless, we’re interested to see how Twitter’s new emoji-focused ad plan is going, now that a few months have passed. If anything, this has been a worthwhile trial, and we look forward to the insights that it’s sure to bring for future emoji experiments in advertising.

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