Mobile ads, particularly app install and direct response ads, have become a big business for Facebook and are likely to become a big business for Twitter very soon. Much of the focus has been on the app install business and how large that line of business can become. While I think the app install market will be huge for both companies, I think there are some things that Twitter can do more easily than Facebook when it comes to the broad direct response category on mobile.
My First Experience Clicking on a Twitter Ad
I had my first interaction with a Twitter direct response ad about a week ago. It was a really clean experience. It was an ad for an upcoming General Assembly class. I clicked on the link and it took me immediately to a landing page where Twitter offered to pass my email address to the brand so they could follow up. I clicked yes and a few minutes later I got a ping back from GA telling me more about the class and offering me a way to sign up for the class. It was a really clean experience – almost no friction and the loop was closed on email, where it’s easy for me to manage the next steps.
As soon as I went through that experience, I wondered whether I would have been willing to go through the same flow on Facebook. I don’t think I would have felt comfortable doing that on Facebook. Over time, my relationship with Facebook has been one where the platform, app developers, and advertisers seem to aggressively want my contact info and personal details for ends that are unclear to me. In a lot of ways, that feeling (which is hard to describe in concrete ways), is why I have scaled back some of my Facebook usage in favor of Twitter.
Over time, I have become very comfortable sharing my interests with Twitter both explicitly by choosing to follow certain brands and people and implicitly by what I retweet and what I click. Twitter has all of that data around what gets my attention. And, to date, Twitter has made me feel good about continuing to share and create that data on their platform as they have not aggressively used it for marketing purposes.
The Difference Between Social Relationships and Interests
Facebook has clearly done a great job in driving mobile install ads. They know a lot about which apps I use on their platform, which Facebook Connect enabled sites and services I use, what content I share and like, and with whom I chat. That is a lot of data about my social interests. And that, combined with a platform with insanely high daily engagement, provides a really robust opportunity for advertisers to target me based on my social relationships and activities. This will continue to be a big business for Facebook so long as they continue to maintain high daily usage, regardless of whether I’m actively or passively sharing my interests with them. The reach they offer advertisers on mobile is and will remain a huge draw.
I have a feeling that Twitter’s strength in mobile direct response will not be as much around the social connections that I have with my followers and those who I follow. I think it will be much more around using Twitter’s data around my interests and (most importantly) my current interests to show me offers that are relevant to me. I think these interest-based ads will attract a different kind of advertiser looking for a different kind of interaction beyond app installs. It could be for advertisers looking to grow email lists by getting new subscribers, call-to-action offers to buy stuff, the opportunity to sign up for an in-person event, and lots of other things beyond driving app store installs.
Feel free to leave a comment below or send me your thoughts on Twitter @chudson.