As more and more social media sites are adding and improving paid ad platforms, advertisers get to choose where and how they want to advertise online. This lends itself to questions like which ad platform advertisers should choose, leading itself to the now-popular debate of Twitter Ads vs. Facebook Ads.
While some ad platforms have slightly different purposes (like with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, where Google Adwords is ideal for catching users in the buying cycle and Facebook Ads is great for discovery), that cannot be said for Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads.
These ad platforms serve similar purposes, seek to achieve the same goals, and function in a similar way—using both only gives you a chance at targeting different users, though you may end up targeting many of the same users, just on different platforms.
Because of this, many marketers are looking to get a definitive, concrete answer: which is better, Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads? To give you the best answer possible, we’ve broken down every major factor that matters when you’re running an ad campaign, and tallied it up.
To get started, though, it’s best to understand how each platform works.
How They Work
Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads work in a similar manner; even the process and interfaces of creating their campaigns have a lot of similarities. There are some subtle differences, even after Twitter upped its game, taking a note after Facebook’s ad platform. Understanding these differences is the first step towards sorting out which platform will be best for you.
How Facebook Ads Works (the basics): Facebook Ads works off a bidding system that is affected by your objective, your bidding strategy (optimizing for clicks, reach, or the objective), and your targeting. What you pay is also affected by what your competition bids.
You will either pay based on clicks or impressions; this allows you to choose whether you want to pay for results, or for views. This depends on what your overall campaign goals and objectives are.
It’s a relatively complex system, particularly with the advanced targeting options. It’s largely these targeting options that help make Facebook Ads so effective; it can also be complicated and confusing for beginners).
It can be hard to keep up with Facebook Ads because they’re constantly making changes to their system, such as introducing new relevance scores and call-to-action buttons. These constant improvements keep their ad platform effective and innovative.
How Twitter Ads Works (the basics): Like Facebook, Twitter is working hard to update and improve their ad platform; in part, they seem to be taking a note from Facebook and are making changes similar to their competition’s platform.
Similar to Facebook, you set a budget, place a bid, and run your campaigns. The bidding system is similar. Their targeting system is also similar, now that they’ve changed it; Twitter no longer automatically targets users for you. They’ve added several unique elements, like TV ad targeting.
The most recent update to Twitter Ads is still in beta testing, and allows advertisers to choose a campaign objective, much like Facebook’s long list of objectives. You can choose to seek Tweet engagement, website clicks or conversions, and more.
Twitter’s pricing system is different than Facebook’s; you pay only when users take an action aligned with your campaign objective; this means you’re only paying for the exact results that you want to see.
You aren’t charged for organic engagement, and you don’t pay more than a penny above another advertiser’s bid. These are both good things.
Twitter Ads vs. Facebook Ads: The Details and the Metrics
Though the functionality, design, and concept of each ad platform matters a great deal, at the end of the day it all comes down to results. Who has more users? Which ads get more engagement? What about cost?
Number of Active Users: Facebook
While Twitter has an impressive 288 million monthly active users, Facebook has 1.3 billion monthly active users. When it comes to the number of users—and therefore the larger audience you can reach through the platform—Facebook has the clear advantage.
Bidding Prices and Cost: Facebook
Though some studies have claimed that Twitter cost them less, Facebook’s bids and overall costs both tend to be lower.
Clicks can often cost significantly more on Twitter, with few exceptions.
Impressions are almost always much more cost effective on Facebook, likely because you can target them.
When it comes to actual cost and bidding prices, Facebook beats out Twitter by a landslide. Over time, it will be interesting to see if Twitter lowers these prices in order to better compete with its rival.
Partially due to the way the bidding systems work, perhaps, Facebook Ads have a much larger reach (and for a much better price) than Twitter Ads. No explanation is needed here; a big part of advertising is getting your name and campaign in front of a lot of people—Facebook does this better.
Average Click-Through Rates: Twitter
Several recent studies have shown that though advertisers tend to spend more on Facebook Ad campaigns overall, Twitter Ads consistently deliver higher click-through rates. This is true even considering Facebook’s bigger reach.
Part of the reason for the higher click-through rate is how effortlessly they’re integrated into popular topics and conversation streams on Twitter. Another part of the reason is that Twitter tends to have less ads compared to Facebook, making users more likely to click on the ones they do see.
Average Engagement: Facebook (but barely)
As of a recent study, Tweets have an average of 350,000 interactions like retweets per minute, while Facebook has an average of 382,000 thousand likes alone per minute.
Depending on what you’re looking for (retweets, in the right hands, can put your content in front of more people), this number can be murky. Overall, though, likes can be just as important and help increase your engagement and reach on Facebook, as well as connecting you with new audiences, so Facebook is going to win this one, too—but just barely.
Overall Traffic Referrals: Facebook
Overall traffic referrals are going to include direct traffic, social referrals, and paid and organic search traffic (i.e., ads). Facebook was actually shown to drive an average of 23.4% of a site’s traffic to it, compared to Twitter’s 1.0%. For most sites, Facebook drives more than 20% of traffic than Twitter. In all the sites I’ve worked on social media campaigns with, I’ve seen this hold true.
Facebook has the clear advantage when it comes to off-site traffic referrals.
Mobile Optimized: Facebook
Facebook has recently increased their mobile ads on their platform, making their site 100% mobile friendly. With Twitter’s platform the ads still fit more seamlessly in with everything else. Aside from this, mobile users average more time on Twitter than on Facebook, and these mobile Twitter uses tend to engage more.
However, one final and important statistic: Facebook Ads are the number one source of paid traffic to convert for paid app downloads. It’s this that makes Facebook the winner here.
While all of these metrics are important and should be taken into consideration, they do produce very clear results: Facebook Ads is the very clear winner when compared to Twitter Ads. For the foreseeable future, we would recommend using Facebook Ads over Twitter, for all of the reasons you can see above. Facebook beat Twitter in almost every important metric, though that click-through rate isn’t something to be ignored, and if they can improve the rest of their platform they could give Facebook a run for their money (but probably not for a while).
It’s clear that both ad platforms each have their strengths and weaknesses; for now, however, Facebook Ads is the advertising platform to go with.
While Facebook Ads is still dominating in this battle (winning by a landslide, really), Twitter Ads shouldn’t be counted out entirely; they are continually working hard to catch up with advertising juggernaut that is Facebook, and are making a lot of changes to do so. Personally, I’m really excited to see what they do over the next year to see what they do to improve their platform.
At the end of the day, each advertiser will have to choose what’s best for them, their business, and their individual campaigns. While Facebook has the advantage here, some advertisers choose to use Twitter instead; that’s all up to you.
What do you think? Which ad platform do you prefer? What do you think of Twitter’s updates to their ad system?