Well, Actually, It Turns Out Twitter Ads Beat Facebook

TBG Digital revises study published last week

Last week, several publications, including Adweek, covered a study from social ad firm TBG Digital that found Facebook’s mobile ads outperformed ads on Twitter by more than 400 percent. Well, that wasn’t exactly fair.

Instead of tracking Promoted Tweets, which run in the stream on Twitter’s desktop and mobile sites and mobile apps, the 24 million ad impressions TBG Digital examined were for Promoted Accounts. Those ads might not be the best representation of Twitter advertising, as they're found outside the stream on the desktop version of Twitter site and in another tab altogether on mobile.

“We definitely do see much stronger clickthrough rates on Promoted Tweets mainly because they’re in-stream rather than off to the left-hand side as Promoted Accounts are,” said TBG Digital CEO Simon Mansell.

TBG Digital clarified its findings on Friday and said in a blog post that Promoted Tweets “typically see 1-3 percent engagement rates on desktop and even higher on mobile.” That at least matches but more likely trumps the clickthrough rates (CTR) for ads that run within the Facebook News Feed. The company said last week that Facebook’s mobile ads average a 1.14 percent CTR while Sponsored Story ads that only run in the desktop News Feed average 0.588 percent.

Last week Twitter announced the ability to run Promoted Tweets without first publishing them organically to a brand’s followers, as previously reported by Adweek. That would let an advertiser more precisely target a Promoted Tweet to a certain subset of Twitter users rather than blasting every tweet to their entire group of followers.

That level of targeting, however, shouldn’t affect the ad units’ CTR, Mansell said. If anything, better targeted ads should lead to greater response. And if the product led to more Promoted Tweets being run, the CTR might go down over time, but Mansell doesn’t expect Twitter to start flooding feeds with the ads.