Oct. 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM ET
Just like PC makers who look to make an extra buck by marketing floral computers to women, and pen makers who design a "for her" model, or even car makers who think pink's a good female Fit, Twitter now is pulling the gender card to help advertisers with "promoted" (paid) products on the short-messaging site.
No, it won't turn its iconic Twitter logo, a bird with a blue background, into one with a pink background on your tweets if you're clearly female.
In fact, figuring out gender on Twitter, which has 140 million monthly active users, can be difficult. Not everyone uses their own photos, Twitter names that are female or even profiles that make it easy to discern gender.
In a blog post titled, "Gender targeting for Promoted Products now available," Twitter's product manager of revenue, April Underwood writes:
We’ve been working on using a variety of signals that could help us understand our users’ gender reliably, while maintaining the simplicity of the Twitter profile that our users value. These signals have proven effective in inferring gender, so starting today, we are making gender targeting available to all marketers.
Those signals are in part based on what information users provide on Twitter, including their profile names or the other Twitter accounts they follow.
Underwood writes that a "panel of human testers has found our predictions are more than 90 percent accurate for our global audience. And where we can't predict gender reliably, we don't — and those users won't be targetable through this feature."
Gender targeting can work, she said, for things like a "new line of cosmetics" — (or floral PCs or pink pens) — "without having its message delivered to men not likely to be interested in that content."
Twitter, she says, is making the move based on what those in marketing say they want.
"It's a tough feature for us to pull off since we don’t ask people to share their gender on Twitter, and some people don’t identify themselves by gender anyway," Underwood writes.
"We believe there’s value to having more contextual signals, including gender, so that messages reach the most relevant audience," Underwood says. "Just as marketers don’t want their ads to reach people who aren’t interested in their message, people don’t want to see mistargeted ads."