Are Twitter Ads Better Than Google Ads?

12/03/2014
12/03/2014 Matt Horne

Twitter Adverts have been available to the public since November 2013. Since then, a lot of “experts” have been getting more excited than Morrisey at a Quorn BBQ, saying they’re the must have thing for social marketers.

But are they really any good? And more importantly; are Twitter Ads any better than Google Adwords? If you’ve had similar thoughts, you’re as nerdy as me, but read on, because I might just have the answer you’ve been looking for.

You see, I’ve been busy on a little project called Weseeanyfilm.com, which is frankly the internet’s best film news and reviews website. The problem is, not a lot of people know that.

Having launched in February, the site has had just shy of 600 people visit, which is less than it deserves for the quality it’s providing. Those visits have came from nothing more than social promotion among friends on Facebook and some targeted tweets and hashtags on Twitter at a total spend of £0.

As I keep saying to people, with social media you get what you put in. It’s no longer free to get big exposure online, you really need to spend money to see results.

The thing is, not many small businesses have spare change lying around for additional advertising. They’re also wary of spending on an untested medium. No more so than a film review website set up on a shoe string with zero income.

So I thought it was time to put Twitter ads to the test against major player Google Adwords in a battle royale. And here are the results, school science project style:

Objectives

To raise awareness of Weseeanyfilm.com – the internet’s best damn film reviews and film news website by driving traffic while spending only a small amount of money.

The Method

Run a set of promoted tweets on Twitter and a group of display network adverts through Google Adwords, promoting a range of articles on Weseeanyfilm.com.

The following articles will be promoted:

The following will be spent on each network

  • £15
  • No more than 50p per click/interaction

The adverts will all run during the same three day period, with a maximum spend of £5 a day.

Initial Observations

Although the experiment set out to be as close a comparison as possible, it was clear in the initial set up there were some key difference between the two advertising mediums.

Google Adwords Pros

  • Ridiculously detailed targeting criteria
  • Much bigger audience for ads
  • Loads of campaign customisation options

Google Adwords Cons

  • You get less characters per ad than a tweet
  • Google are well tight when it comes to images. They have to meet specific dimensions and quality criteria
  • Can be confusing getting set up and getting to grips with Google’s keyword system

Twitter Ads Pros

  • Simple to set up and get going
  • Targets both mobile and desktop at the same time
  • Images can be as big as you like
  • Makes it easy to steal competitor audience by targeting their fans

Twitter Ads Cons

  • You can’t be as detailed/stalkery in your demographic targeting
  • No automatic integration with Google Analytics

Because of these differences, the same copy couldn’t be used on both networks. Compromises had to be made with Google Adwords in an attempt to get the same message across.

The Results

After the three days of advertising where up, and a huge £30 in total had been spent, the results were surprising.

 Google AdwordsTwitter Ads
CPC£0.24£0.05
CTR0.28%5.01%
Clicks62400
Ad Impressions21,7658,070
Website views93
Visitor bounce rate66.67%33.33%

It would look like Twitter was the winner by far. Interactions with adverts cost a lot less than Google, and the visitors to the site were more engaged with the content. However, there is a huge discrepancy between the clicks on the ads and the people that Google Analytics reported as landing on the site.

Part of this might be because Twitter Ads don’t give you a proper click through rate. They lump them all together with “Those made anywhere on the tweet, including any hashtags, links, avatar, username, or tweet expansion“.

You also have to take in to account the fact that some people block Analytic cookies so their visits to the website wouldn’t be recorded in the data.

In addition to these top line figures, the Weseeanyfilm.com Twitter account gained two new followers, two retweets and a favorite from the Twitter ads – a small but valuable addition.

Conclusion

The budget

First up, an investment of £30 is pretty much a wasted effort. Online ads are like gambling, you need to spend more to gain more. Spending that small amount is really a waste of money and time.

The campaign couldn’t run long enough to gather traction. The ads were not showing all the time because the budget was spent after a small number of interactions. This was especially the case on Twitter where the spend was spunked away by 6am. On Google they lasted a little longer, but the budget was pretty much finished by 12.

The winner

Both campaigns drove traffic to the website and would have got the name of the website in front of people. But, even with the limited number of people that clicked (we’re talking beauty product questionnaire size samples here) there’s no doubt Twitter ads provided the best value for money.

Not only did the ads get more engagement at a much lower cost, the people that clicked through spent more time on the site and viewed more pages. There is also the added bonus that from the Twitter ads the Weseeanyfilm account gained additional followers, who may become free spokespeople for the brand in the future.

For me the power behind Twitter ads is the ability to target them at people that follow similar accounts (in this case Total Film, Empire and other film websites). This is much better than keyword targeting when it comes to an awareness campaign. Sure you can target interests in Google Display Ads, but the whole system is just so complicated and detailed it’s off putting.

So it’s with that in mind that at the end of the experiment, I raise the arm of Twitter Ads as the true victor in this internet advertising battle and leave Google Ads lying bloody and beaten on the mat.

Yes, I’ve become Morrisey, and Twitter Ads are a huge Quorn sausage at the social media BBQ.

What’s next

If you’re thinking about running a Twitter campaign, or would like to know more about getting some online exposure for your business or brand – get in touch. I promise I won’t get too Morrisey on you.

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Matt Horne

Freelance digital marketing and social media consultant dedicated to making your internet awesome.