Guest Post by: Ivan Serrano
Newsflash: Search is still king – at least for the moment – but social is making headway. The bottom line for online advertising hasn’t changed since Twitter and Facebook implemented their online advertising initiatives. However, there are plenty of reasons to keep up with what both Facebook and Twitter are doing and how they compare.
Overall, the trend seems to be moving toward mobile and away from desktop and laptops, not just incrementally, but in waves. This includes both static and video formats. Keeping up with the trends to determine the tipping points for your target market, and the social platforms where you engage with your target market, should be a top priority on your action list. And here are some things you should know:
This is an easy comparison, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Facebook has over 1 billion users while Twitter’s user base is barely over a quarter as big. When you compare the number of items posted, the difference is even greater – 4.75 billion for Facebook compared to 500 million for Twitter. The implication here is that Facebook users are online more during the day and are more engaged with the platform than Twitter users.
But what about ad performance? How engaged are the users of Facebook and Twitter with the ads being posted?
Much of the data that would make platform comparisons possible are not available yet. This underscores the fledgling nature of social advertising. However, preliminary data suggest that users on Twitter are more engaged with ads as measured by comparing click-through-rates (CTRs). Twitter comes in at about 18% vs. around 2% for Facebook if you look at the quarter on quarter change for each platform. This offset is reflected in rates. Twitter ads will cost about $3.50 per impression vs. about $.60 per impression for Facebook.
For advertisers trying to reach mobile users, Facebook, again because of its larger network and in spite of the fact that its ad format is strictly for mobile devices, Facebook dominates with 5x more display ads purchased than Twitter. In fact, Twitter is a distant fourth to Facebook on this metric, coming in behind Google and Pandora and only slightly ahead of Apple.
Twitter, however is investing heavily, and is deriving a far greater percentage of its total revenue from mobile advertising, so Twitter’s commitment to mobile is significant. In fact, with close to 50% of its ad revenue coming from mobile, it may seem that Twitter is betting the farm on mobile advertising. But then, so is Facebook, whose display ads are designed specifically for mobile. If these companies are reading the tealeaves correctly, social advertising is nothing without mobilization.
Currently advertisers, mostly big brands are spending more money with Facebook than with Twitter. Some of these brands, like Hertz, McDonalds, Lowes, and Pepsi are spending more than twice as much with Facebook. Presumably, this is because of Facebook’s substantially larger user base.
That being said, new retailers are showing up in greater numbers and buying more ads on Twitter. But, while Twitter is seeing greater growth in terms of sheer numbers of retailers buying ads, currently, the overall spend is still greater on Facebook.
Twitter and Facebook are aggressively investing in and promoting their ad platforms in an effort to demonstrate that they can make money. In order to for them to make money sustainably, they have to demonstrate that advertisers can make money as well. Just like with search-based advertising a few years ago, they will eventually get the mechanics of their offerings sorted out and the face of lead generation from advertising will once again change forever–until the next big thing comes along.
Until then, advertisers will be best served by keeping up with the changes by making limited investments and continuing to test the waters with the platform where they see the most customer engagement.
Ivan Serrano is a web content writer that specializes in social media, business marketing, and globalization. To connect with Ivan, follow him on Twitter @IvanSerrano55.