Twitter Challenges Facebook's Dominance of App-install Ads

Earlier this month Twitter invited the Pollen team to their new London HQ for #AppsUntapped where they demonstrated the biggest changes to their advertising network since the acquisition of MoPub.

In one leap, Twitter have come from far behind to mount a serious challenge to Facebook’s dominance of the app install ad industry.

The long-awaited app-install Twitter card has arrived.

Advertisers can now access the new card from the ‘Creatives’ tab on the Twitter Ads dashboard.

There are two types; the first a ‘basic’ option that takes the app icon from the app store and presents it alongside an install button on the UI, and a second replaces the app icon with a full-width custom image of your choice. The card also displays the star-rating taken from the app store and automatically detects the user’s device (Android or iOS). This brings them into line with Facebook’s offering.

Twitter have gone further however. They’ve come up with an ingenious method to poll the operating system to check if the app being advertised has been installed post-click. When it detects the install, Twitter shows its own in-app notification as a follow-up for the user; many of whom continue to browse their tweets whilst the download occurs.

This new feature is aimed at reducing the chances of a user choosing to download but forgetting to go back to their new app and open it for the first time.

Until now Twitter has charged per ‘engagement’ (clicks on any link, replies, follows and retweets) rather than just clicks on download links. With the launch of the app-install ads they’ve announced that only charges for clicks will apply - welcome news for developers that should improve cost-per-install.

Twitter say that they have seen very significant jumps in click-through rates and much lower drop off as a result of their changes, citing Lovoo and GetTaxi as successful examples during the beta period.

Interestingly, Facebook has been trailing the addition of social interaction tools - the ability to like, reply-to and share the ads - on their platform to mirror what Twitter have been doing for some time. The advantage to the advertiser is that they get human feedback on their ads and, if an ad is particularly viral, the opportunity for users to forward it on organically is immediately available.

One thing to note from a developer point-of-view is that whilst Facebook includes attribution in its own SDK, Twitter is relying on third parties such as Tune (formally HasOffers) and Ad-X. Twitter’s ad dashboard will even allow you to monitor custom events you’ve set up with these providers to follow the user from install through to monetisation.

It’s quite likely, however, that Twitter will eventually launch its own SDK and tie it in to the wider MoPub network. One of the problems that the big social advertisers will be coming up against is over-subscription. They’ll all need to expand their ad network beyond the original social networks in order to cater for demand in a rapidly consolidating market.

New to app-install advertising? Let the Pollen team know and they’ll guide you through it.

P.S. Top-tip for anyone using Twitter as a business. Use the new analytic tools made available this week to see engagement stats on each and every tweet you send out. Access this tool with the URL construct: