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Testing ad campaigns: Facebook versus Magpie(via Twitter)

When I launched numeroom.com last month I planned on running a simultaneous ad limited ad campaign to promote the business. I had to figure out which of the many options to use, I could have gone with ads on Google, yahoo, the Microsoft network or any of many of the old school (ok some may not consider Google that yet but it is older than Facebook and Twitter) but decided to go with Facebook because of the ease with which they allow existing "Pages" to advertise to the Facebook community and because it seemed they were providing very competitive pricing on the campaign. I ran a limited test campaign of an ad that was created to introduce the numeroom site and the features it provides. It was to run for only two days, at the end of the campaign I used Facebooks basic analysis tools to see that in the run time of the campaign which cost $5 total, the ad was shown to exactly 41,623 people. Of course the number of people that actually look at those side banner ads is a small fraction of this number and according to the clicks for this particular campaign amounted to a grand total of 11 clicks. That is 11 clicks through to the numeroom.com site link provided in the ad after display to 41,623 people. I expected the click rate would be low but I really had no metric to compare this number to, since this was my first campaign and I'd not used any other service. The total click through rate was .03%. It just so happens of the 11 clicks none seem to have turned into new users on the site, as during that testing period I didn't record any new user creations and my service is free in a basic form. That said, I decided to look for another way to advertise and the other big darling of the IT media in the last year has been Twitter, the micro-blogging service. I was investigating methods of using status updates to post advertisement links to twitterers and found a site called magpie that seemed to fit the bill. I quickly was able to create an account and set up a test campaign. This would allow me to format a 140 character advertisement and a link in a tweet and then magpie would propose the ad to twitterers in its network with large collections of followers in the areas that match the keywords provided with the ad campaign. Intuitively this seemed as if it would generate a higher click through rate than the Facebook ads for several reasons.

  • People go to twitter to chat, learn about specific things in a moment. If the ad targets those things there is a high likely hood of relevance and a high chance of a click if the ad is shown when the user is searching on a topic that the ad has as a keyword.
  • Unlike Facebook which must do its best to keep ads to the side out of the way of the main social functions people go to their site to perform, Twitter updates are the "meat" of the service, putting ads in them and targeting relevance should result in high click through rates.
So with that in mind, I started a test campaign on Magpie with a short tweet indicating the following:

"group chat in any language, share any file, link rooms, follow friends, IM, message, securely, join free: http://www.numeroom.com"

I started the campaign and waited the two days of run time to elapse, unlike the Facebook campaign which was a $5 test this one I ran for $20 worth of ad delivery. The results of the campaign as reported after its end was very interesting. Unlike Facebook which just carpet bombed huge amounts of Facebook users (Facebook allows targeting by country and age group demographics but does not have a keyword matching facility) that I specified in my targeted demographics (I chose US viewers from all age groups) the Magpie ads were focused on the searchers of the provided keywords.

"attach bookmark chat customer email embed feed file files invite language link secure service translation"

The total number of followers of the host twitter accounts that saw my ad was only 2,626 but the amount of clicks through to numeroom.com generated was an amazing 56. For a click through of 2.13% , 71 times better than the Facebook ad and for a fraction of the cost the main take away is that with the Facebook ad campaign it took showing the ad to over 40,000 people to get 11 to click on it, but for the Magpie (Twitter) ad , showing it to just 2,626 people resulted in 5 times the number of clicks through and unlike the Facebook test ad run which didn't generate a user on the site, the Magpie run actually generated several. I am definitely going to be running more magpie ads as they are significantly more efficient and cheaper than the Facebook ads because of the unique targeting they provide to individuals searching on topics salient to their interests at the moment. In my case, secure web collaboration, file sharing and language translation services of numeroom.com

This underscores something I've been saying about Twitter and in fact that I blogged about, it is very useful for several entities (entertainers, journalists, businesses and sports figures), as a business the ad service provided by Magpie for numeroom.com is an excellent and hyper efficient way I know of currently to reach out to users that would find the numeroom.com services useful and convert those clicks to new users on the site. I will have more to say on the magpie campaigns that I will be launching on a larger scale in posts to come. I wonder if Twitter will get into this revenue model themselves and starve out third parties like Magpie or do they have other things (like what I mentioned in the blog post linked previously) up their sleeve. Whatever it is, they need to get going soon to avoid having the bulk of the notification usefulness subsumed by Facebooks similar options.

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