Twitter monetizes mobile where others fail
By Chantal Tode
June 8, 2012
A Promoted Tweet appears in the Twitter app
Twitter appears to be one of the only companies to have found a way to wring money out of the mobile social convergence, with the company’s CEO recently saying that it generates more revenue from mobile than from the Web on many days.
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, reportedly made the pronouncement at a conference in San Francisco this week, where he said Twitter is inherently suited to mobile. The news is especially noteworthy in light of the difficulties Facebook and others have been having monetizing mobile.
“When you think about how consumers actually consume Twitter, it's not surprising to see that Twitter nets more revenue from mobile ad products than desktop,” said Christian Borges, vice president of marketing at Mr Youth, New York. “Twitter has smartly developed an ad format that perfectly blends in with the rest of the content a consumer sees in their Twitter feed.
“And really, as fantastic as Twitter's desktop Web site is, you'll find most Twitter users are accessing their feed through apps,” he said.
“Twitter is getting better about educating marketers and brands on how to best use their platform, so I expect to see smarter, better and higher volume of marketing content in Twitter going forward.”
Playing nice with mobile
Social networks have a significant opportunity to attract marketing dollars via their mobile advertising strategies because they reach so many consumers on a regular basis throughout their day. While being able to monetize mobile is important for these companies as use increasing migrates from desktop to mobile, Facebook and others have found this a challenge.
Part of the reason for Twitter’s success in mobile advertising is that its Promoted Tweets do not disrupt the user’s consumption of the feed. Additionally, users are expected to engage with brands similarly to how they engage with any other tweet, by retweeting, replying or clicking on a link, which lowers the barrier to encouraging consumers to engage.
Additionally, Twitter has given developers access to its platform to create a range of apps that cater to the various needs and preferences of users.
Twitter on mobile
“Twitter's heritage is mobile,” Mr. Borges said. “Unlike Facebook, from its very inception, Twitter has been built to play nice with mobile technology.
“Since users consume twitter primarily in a linear format - scrolling through a list of tweets - their organic sponsored ad product integrations are more easily consumed by consumers,” he said. “That's a major reason why Twitter's mobile ad strategy is blowing up.”
“They have a robust app ecosystem of their own that simply doesn't exist for most online platforms where marketers are active like Facebook.”
In comparison, Facebook’s brand experience in mobile is so pared down that the experience is not very engaging, per Mr. Borges.
Twitter also offers opportunities for adding value for consumers with content that is relevant to what they're doing in real-time. However, this can be challenging for marketers.
“Marketers are still trying to wrap their brain around that concept, and it takes a certain additional level of thinking around social listening and analytics to make opportunities like that into actionable strategies for brands,” Mr. Borges said.
Facebook has itself said it has having a hard time monetizing mobile. To help drive further revenue from mobile, Facebook said this week that it is giving marketers a way to reach a mobile-only audience for the first time with sponsored stories.
Previously, sponsored stories appearing in mobile news feeds had to be purchased as part of an ad package. Now marketers can purchase mobile-sponsored stories independently of other forms of advertising, a move that should help the social network giant better monetize its mobile audience.
However, Twitter still appears to offer the better mobile ad experience in the short term.
“The wonderful thing about Twitter's ad products of sponsored trends and tweets is how well they work together to tell a story,” Mr. Borges said. “The one-two punch of a tweet and trend helps to aggregate an ongoing conversation among consumers into a single feed based on a hashtag trend.
“Brands can act as the host of the conversation or get in there and really contribute and fuel the conversation,” he said.
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