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Twitter Takes to TV Tie-Ins

User growth slows, but Twitter’s ad revenues are growing rapidly

March 28, 2014

Twitter showed in 2013 that its ad business is growing fast. Even as user growth slowed dramatically, ad revenues and ad engagement metrics ticked up.

Advertisers cite three reasons why they’re increasing spending on Twitter: The social network’s tie-ins with TV, its real-time nature and its willingness to partner closely on creative executions. Other developments that will drive growth this year include improved analytics, more ad offerings for international markets and additional ad products in the direct-response and ecommerce areas, according to a new eMarketer report, “Advertising on Twitter: Unique Opportunities Outweigh Slowing User Growth.”

Twitter Ad Revenues Worldwide, 2012-2016 (millions and % change)

Twitter spent much of 2013 solidifying its connections with TV. It launched a new ratings business with Nielsen to measure TV-related conversations on Twitter; created new video ad opportunities with Amplify; and bolstered its association with high-profile TV events such as the Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars.

Twitter’s linkups with television are beneficial to both the TV industry and the social network. TV executives know that many people multitask on mobile devices while watching TV. On-air mentions of Twitter drive conversation about what’s on TV and help keep viewers focused on the television.

In December 2013 polling by RBC and Advertising Age, 22% of US advertising professionals said they’d bought Twitter ads in conjunction with a TV ad campaign. Considering that programs such as Amplify are less than a year old, this constitutes positive momentum.

US Advertising Professionals Who Have Used Twitter Ads in Conjunction with a TV Ad Campaign, Dec 2013 (% of respondents)

Advertisers that buy sponsorship packages for sports or other large-scale televised events are starting to see Twitter ads as an integral part of their overall media plan. However, there’s a caveat to looking at Twitter as a parallel to TV. Advertisers can reach an engaged audience on Twitter, but that audience by no means rivals the size or demographic makeup of the audience watching a TV program. Advertisers, then, must put engagement before reach when they sync up their TV advertising with ads on Twitter.

Twitter is focused on improving its connections with TV, and it has been bolstering its case with TV advertisers with a series of studies. Among the findings:

  • Twitter users were less likely to change the channel during ad breaks: In a November 2013 study from Symphony Advanced Media, 8% of Twitter users did so, compared with 17% of those who were not multitasking and 13% of those who multitasked with a mobile device while watching TV.
  • Viewers watching TV while using Twitter had higher ad recall: In a December 2013 study by Millward Brown Digital, those watching without a second-screen device had average ad recall of 40%, while those using Twitter had average recall of 53%.

The full report, “Advertising on Twitter: Unique Opportunities Outweigh Slowing User Growth,” also answers these key questions:

  • How much ad revenues will Twitter have in 2014 and beyond?
  • How do advertisers feel about Twitter’s ad products?
  • What steps is Twitter taking to increase usage?
  • What new ad products are expected this year?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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