What Declining Interest in Twitter Ads Means for Marketers

Digital ad spend is booming, especially on social media. Need proof? Here are some fat figures for you: According to predictions from eMarketer, digital ad spend will total over $27B in the US in 2015. This figure is expected to reach $36.36B in 2017, with Facebook and Twitter accounting for over 33% of the market. For the first time, Twitter is poised to overtake Yahoo in terms of total US digital display revenues.

But despite these lofty predictions, there is some speculation that the popularity of Twitter Ads are not where they should be – especially considering the growth of the digital ad market. We took an inside look at Twitter’s traffic and engagement stats in order to understand if these concerns hold any merit.


Twitter Means Business with Promoted Ads

The success of Twitter’s digital ad service is thanks in part to Twitter for Business, the platform where businesses can gain new customers through promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. So far the campaign has been highly successful: In 2015, worldwide Twitter ad revenue is expected to reach a whopping $1.3B – a hefty sum by any estimation, especially when you consider that when the platform was launched in in 2011, total ad revenue was $140M.

twitter ad revenue wwide


Let’s take a closer look at the interest in the Twitter Ads platform to learn a bit more about the actual demand for the service.

desktop visits to ads.twitter


It’s clear that traffic to the subdomain ads.twitter.com spiked around 2014, peaking in September at 6.68M visits. Then traffic appeared to level off a little, maintaining a steady pace – or some might say, plateau – from October onwards.

So where is most of the interest coming from? If we take a look at the gepgraphic breakdown to ads.twitter.com we can see which countries are driving the most traffic to this domain. The United States – an advertiser’s paradise! – is clearly winning, with the UK and France following behind in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively

twitter ads by country


Fun fact: Just because certain countries are all about Twitter doesn’t mean they’re jumping on the digital ad bandwagon. This is abundantly clear when we look at the list of countries driving the most traffic to Twitter. When you compare these lists side by side, it’s obvious that while some regions are likely avid tweeters, they aren’t too interested in Twitter for business, at least not in terms of promoted ads. For example, while Brazil is the 4th largest country driving traffic to Twitter.com, it doesn’t even show up on the list of the top 15 countries driving traffic to the Twitter ads subdomain.

desktop traffic to twitter.com

Where do Twitter Ads Run, and is the Audience Responsive?

desktop visits to twitter


According to our global rank index, Twitter is one of the top 10 most popular websites in the world. And the site is the 3rd most popular social networking site in its category after Facebook and Google. Still, you can see that traffic to twitter.com has declined ever so slowly during the last 12 months. But it’s important to keep in mind that this subtle drop in traffic is primarily due to the shift from desktop to mobile devices. For while desktop visits to Twitter.com began to decrease, mobile visits to the site began to rise. Unsurprisingly, then, Twitter received a hefty 88% of its ad revenue from mobile devices in Q4 of last year.

desktop and mobile visits to twitter.com

Twitter and the Mobile App Economy

In 2014 spending on mobile app install ads amounted to a staggering $1.67B; this figure is expected to reach $3B this year. Earlier we mentioned that predicted revenue from digital ads was a cool $1.3B. That’s from mobile and desktop combined…about half of this figure is expected to come from mobile alone.

Mobile ad spend is predicted to double desktop ad spend by as early as 2017. In the coming year alone, US mobile ad spend will increase by 50% to reach nearly $29B and will account for 49% of all digital ad spend. If that doesn’t impress you, this certainly will – by 2019 eMarketer predicts that mobile ad spend will nearly triple, accounting for over 72% of the total digital ad spend. Along this vein, around 90% of Twitter’s ad revenues are expected to come from mobile devices this year.

Currently Twitter has a stable base of very active users, and the continuous growth of this segment illustrates real potential in terms of reaching a receptive audience for Twitter’s mobile app ads.

twitter app current installs


This graph paints a pretty clear picture of how installs for the Twitter app have soared since September. Especially when you consider what this means in terms of installs, with 1 out of 4 Android devices sporting a Twitter app. In the UK this number is even more impressive: in February, 34% of all Android devices were installed with the Twitter app. Even more importantly, 1 out of 5 of these mobile users engage with the Twitter app on a daily basis.

Now for some more positive data insights: User engagement on the Twitter app is up, up and away! It’s clear that usage time per session has increased, meaning users are spending more time using the app.

twitter usage patterns

Twitter is Still Singing Strong

Everything we’ve looked at says that the actual Twitter site is stronger than ever before, especially in the mobile sphere. The success of mobile apps – and the huge profit potential for social apps in particular – bodes well for one of the world’s most famous social networking sites. True, there is a shortage of desktop traffic, but as research tells us, this is likely an ongoing trend as the shift to mobile from desktop continues. In fact, according to eMarketer next year mobile ad spend is expected to surpass desktop; even though both channels will remain significant areas of focus for online marketers, mobile will continue gobbling up market share while desktop spending will stagnate.

Twitter is stronger than ever in mobile. This is going to be the point of growth for the company in 2015, both in terms of users and ad revenues. But the social networking site’s promoted ads platform is seeing some decline in interest. Considering the growth of the social networking platform, you would expect Twitter Ads to be growing a lot faster than it is. It’s clear they need to work on attracting more business with their promoted ads platform, especially in international markets.

Perhaps a different set of ads or features are needed to appeal to companies in other countries. Because  birds of another feather don’t always flock together, and this holds true for the business world as well. If Twitter ads can engage more global businesses, they’ll be able to take flight to a whole new level.

About the Author -

Lauren Meir is a writer and the Creative Content Manager at SimilarWeb. Her expertise lies in content marketing and creative branding. She has experience writing for a variety of industries including the art world and online gaming, and her work has appeared in publications such as the Huffington Post, Provokator and the Detroit Jewish News.

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