Twitter will take home more US mobile ad revenues this year than its larger cousin, Facebook, according to a new forecast by eMarketer. Twitter will earn $129.7 million in mobile advertising revenues this year in the US, eMarketer projects. Facebook, which rolled out mobile ads for the first time this year, will come in at just over half that amount, at $72.7 million in the US. Meanwhile, Pandora’s mobile earnings will jump from $120 million in 2011 to just under $500 million in 2014.
Both companies earn far less mobile revenue than companies with more established mobile ad platforms like Google and Pandora, though growth in mobile revenues at both social networks is expected to remain high throughout the forecast period.
The increasing focus on mobile by both Twitter and Facebook, as well as other major digital advertising publishers, will contribute to growth in the overall US mobile advertising market, which eMarketer estimates will reach $2.61 billion this year. By 2016, the US mobile advertising market is expected to near $12 billion, according to eMarketer.
Several factors underpin the growth of Facebook and Twitter’s mobile business.
As users increasingly access Twitter via mobile devices, eMarketer believes that the tight integration between the company’s ad products—particularly Promoted Tweets—and core user experience has made the subsequent shift toward displaying mobile advertisements relatively simple. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has reported that, on most days, the service generates more ad revenues from users on mobile devices than it does from viewers of Twitter.com.
Facebook, by comparison, only rolled out Premium ads in the newsfeed—part of its core user experience for both mobile and desktop—earlier this year. eMarketer estimates that Facebook earns more than 60% of its revenue from its Marketplace advertising platform, most of which is generated by ads that display on the right-hand side of Facebook’s desktop experience. Such ads do not appear on Facebook’s mobile platform.
Still, mobile is a long-term play for Facebook, and by next year, eMarketer expects the social networking giant to beat out Twitter by a significant margin, taking in $387 million on mobile in the US. By 2014, Facebook’s US mobile revenues will reach $629.4 million, compared to $444.1 million at Twitter—making Facebook the second-highest mobile ad earner of all companies after Google, which has a significant lead.
eMarketer says it bases its estimates for mobile ad revenues on an analysis of reported revenues from company releases; estimates from other research firms on advertising revenues, pricing, impressions and other factors; usage trends at major mobile advertising publishers; and eMarketer interviews with executives at ad agencies, brands, online ad publishers and other industry leaders. eMarketer’s estimate for overall US mobile ad spend in 2012 is unchanged from the previous forecast. This is eMarketer’s first forecast for mobile advertising revenue at Twitter, Facebook and Pandora.
RBR-TVBR observation: Monetizing mobile is the new holy grail of advertising. Mobile ads aren’t typically as effective as other ads, but that’s where the eyeballs are. Discovering what works will raise the bar for any advertiser. When companies like Twitter, Facebook and Pandora can prove that mobile ads across their systems are not only achieving engagement, but action, the dollars will follow that much more quickly.