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Twitter Beats Facebook On Ad Returns

Advertisers invested twice as much in Facebook ads, but Twitter ads received more clicks, a report says.

Businesses spent significantly more money on Facebook ads than Twitter ads last year, even though Twitter ads produced better results, according to a new report.

Resolution Media, a social and search advertising agency, analyzed the social media activity of 20 of its clients with ad spends that totaled $37 million last year. The agency found that, while businesses invested 127% more in Facebook, Twitter ads generated a significantly higher click-through rate.

This isn't the first time a report has called into question the value of Facebook's advertising. Last year, Forrester published a scathing report that advised businesses to ditch Facebook advertising in favor of other marketing opportunities. Facebook, it said, creates less business value than any other digital marketing resource.

[Businesses remain uncertain about Twitter's true value. Read Twitter's Enduring Struggle: ROI.]

While Facebook ads didn't perform as well as Twitter ads, the report attributed the social network's higher spend levels to a few factors. Impressions and clicks cost less on Facebook than Twitter, which encourages marketers and advertisers to spend more, it said. Also, advertisers were quick to increase investments in successful Facebook ad campaigns and embrace new alpha and beta advertising opportunities, which outpaced Twitter's new offerings in 2013.

"Facebook's relative maturity as a direct response channel, combined with these new ad offerings, explains much of the strategic thinking that drove advertisers to spend more with Facebook," according to the report. "Add to that the sheer reach and supply of advertising inventory offered by Facebook, and it's easy to understand what led advertisers to spend more than twice their Twitter budgets with Facebook." Facebook has more than 1.2 billion monthly active users, versus Twitter's 241 million.

While Facebook spending may wildly outpace Twitter's, advertisers ramped up spending on Twitter at a higher pace than on Facebook. From Q3 to Q4, businesses increased spending on Twitter by 71% compared to just 27% on Facebook.

The difference between spending on Twitter and Facebook between Q3 and Q4 was amplified in industry vertical data. Retailers spent 257% more on Twitter ads compared to 94% more on Facebook, while businesses and consumer services spent 361% more on Twitter, compared to 211% more on Facebook.

But why? Resolution attributes the increases in part to Twitter's new offerings, which included TV Ad Targeting and Nielsen Twitter TV ratings, both of which helped advertisers better align social with TV. Another important detail: Twitter ads generate more clicks than Facebook ads, the report found.

"Twitter ads generate clicks at a much higher rate as advertisers integrate them tightly with broad trends and conversations, serving up straightforward messaging and content directly into relevant conversation streams," the report said. "Importantly, Twitter ads appear within a less cluttered environment than Facebook ads, in the user's Twitter timeline with few additional advertisers."

Advertisers have more reason to pay close attention to Twitter now, too: According to reports, Twitter is preparing to launch 15 new types of ads, including app-install ads that let users click a button and download the app that paid for the ad, right from Apple or Google's app store.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2014 | 6:39:29 PM
Pretty amazed by this
Absolutely Kristin, thanks for the tips! I find your article extremely interesting actually. Matter of fact I was looking for Facebook ad ideas and I also found this pretty interesting. hope it help,  All the best.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2014 | 12:44:58 PM
Re: who wants clicks?
Because clicks are theoretically in the control of the ad companies.  Their job, in essence, is to drive traffic somewhere.  Once someone clicks through and lands on whatever page they're supposed to, it's up to the page itself to convert the user.  


The problem is when ad companies mislead people with their ads to drive up clicks even though the message is not relevant to the outcome.  If I click on an ad that sets the expectation that I will be taken to a download page (or app store), your ocnversion rates should, in theory, go up, even if you get less clicks. BUT, if you're an ad company, you probably won't want your key metrics to be skewed because the landing page your directing traffic to, sucks.  
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2014 | 6:42:52 AM
Re: who wants clicks?
I think that's more to do with it being a more successful metric. If you sell ads based on installs, you're going to need to be pair a very high rate per install, as it's going to be a tiny percentage. However if you sell on clicks, you can bring the price right down and generate much more of a return for yourself as the platform holder.

Not saying it's more benefit to the advertiser, but it probably seems like a more attractive proposition.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 4:23:14 PM
who wants clicks?
I continue to be amazed that online ad companies can sell a product that many advertisers don't really want: clicks. If you develop mobile apps, for example, you probably want installs more than clicks.
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