"People who think of Facebook and Twitter as being in the same
categories are underestimating both," he said. "I need a chair to
sit on and a desk to put my computer on. I don't need two
Twitter's best case for differentiation is with colossal live
events. Next to Facebook, it is a superior conversational medium,
and so, a better space for real-time marketing, several marketers
claimed. It is morphing into a media portal, where people turn for
news and to explore their interests. And it is beefing up its tools
for targeting these consumers, including its Tailored Audiences
program and Crashalytics, its mobile-app dashboard.
On mobile, Twitter has taken significant strides. During the
quarter, it acquired two mobile-ad companies,
Namo Media and
TapCommerce, to strengthen what the company calls its
"off-Twitter" strategy. MoPub, the mobile exchange Twitter owns,
handles over 130 billion ad requests a month, and powers ad-buying
across hundreds of apps. Several marketers believe Twitter will
soon integrate its data into these apps, deepening the company's ad
Twitter declined to comment.
"If you can use that data to better track users, then you make
up for quantity with quality," said Ian Schafer, CEO of digital
agency Deep Focus.
Still, quantity matters. Twitter's best stab at growth came with
the World Cup. It marked the first major global event with Twitter
as an established platform.
Advertising seized upon the matches, which inspired 672 million
tweets. Fans, as well as plenty of marketers latched on to
explosive moments, like when Uruguayan Luis Suarez sunk his teeth
into an opponent. Twitter also moved
aggressively to tap the games, unveiling a promotional campaign
and slate of new features to reel in new users and engage dormant
On Tuesday, Twitter desperately wants to show a bump in user
growth from the games, which began during its second quarter, in
June, but extended into the next quarter.
But Twitter knows a World Cup doesn't come around every quarter.
It will need to push for smaller, regional events to generate
interest from users and advertisers. The question for the platform,
said Mr. Schafer, is "how much will advertisers spend to make those
Middle-aged users pose a challenge
As a media platform, Twitter has struggled where Facebook has
flourished: obtaining middle-aged users. Marketers hope the
company's new products, such as Twitter cards, its growing
rich-media unit, can draw in this higher spending demographic, who
often find the platform foreign. Amplify, Twitter's bid to rake in
revenues from traditional TV advertising, has had mixed results in
its early stages.
Multiple marketers also expressed frustration that Twitter is
overly beholden to its users -- if Twitter tweaks its service and
users gripe, the company behaves sensitively; Facebook doesn't.
The World Cup results could point to another distinction from
Facebook -- but a bittersweet one for Twitter. A fan in Brazil may
have tracked the matches on Twitter, without ever logging in. A
similar problem arises with the millions of tweets that appear on
websites outside Twitter, where there's no way to measure eyeballs
or earn ad dollars.
"The impact of Twitter is much bigger than their user base," Mr.
Singh noted. While it is plausible that Twitter could integrate its
paid products -- and demographic targeting tools -- into its
far-flung content, many marketers and agency executives do not
expect that to happen. That means they will have to rely on Twitter
to expand its engaged ranks -- or get comfortable with its
"They think they can crack the nut on non-active users in a way
that's similarly targeted" said Zach Pentel, director of digital
strategy at BBDO NY. "They haven't told us how they're
going to do that."