One of the lead designers of Facebook's ad exchange says Twitter's $350 million acquisition of mobile ad company MoPub makes Twitter a superior product — potentially — in terms of mobile advertising.
Former Facebook ad targeting product manager Antonio Garcia-Martinez helped create FBX, which allows advertisers to target users inside Facebook based on their web browsing history. He is now an advisor to one of Facebook's larger ad-buying clients, Nanigans.
This makes Twitter the most interesting company in advertising right now.
It’s a bigger, ballsier bet than my former employer [Facebook] ever made, and it puts Twitter way ahead of any other social media player. I hate the douchey cant of MBA-speak, but to the extent we can use the term ‘game changer’ without puking in our mouths, this move is that.
What Twitter can do with MoPub, and Facebook has not, Garcia says, is create a mobile ad network that uses Twitter's data on its users as a targeting device. In mobile, everyone else's targeting is just guessing. The tracking cookies that enable targeting to exist on the desktop computer environment are largely missing from the mobile environment. But people stay logged in to Twitter on both desktop and mobile, and with MoPub Twitter now has a way to target people properly in both media, Garcia says:
They know whom you’ve followed, what you’ve Tweeted, as well as what pages on the Web you’ve browsed. Remember, there are Tweet buttons over the entire Internet, which means they know what websites you’ve visited. That’s very valuable data they can suddenly inject into the real-time ebb and flow of browsing data. It’s also longer-lived. What marketers call the ‘intent window’ of camera shopping might last only last a week or two, but your interest in Lady Gaga indicates a certain demographic category that won’t change for years. And only Twitter knows that (well, and Facebook, but they’re not doing much with it).
How does this technically work? Since you’re logged into Twitter on a desktop browser and on a mobile device, the browser cookie from your computer and the device ID from your device are joined. Twitter will join those two in a data-safe way on their back-end that allows the data to flow across user experiences, without losing control of the underlying identity. Doing that, they have within reach that heretofore unattainable Holy Grail of marketers: a permanent, stable, and immutable key that identifies everybody online, on every device, all the time.
Garcia is overstating the case somewhat. Twitter hasn't got this up and running yet. And Facebook has the same capabilities as Twitter.
The only difference between the two is that Twitter has now made a bold play that clearly indicates it wants to set up both an internal Twitter ad exchange — TFX? — and an external mobile ad network.
Facebook already has its FBX internal ad exchange, but, oddly, it put plans for its external mobile ad network on hold.
Now Twitter may have jumped ahead.
Disclosure: The author owns Facebook stock.
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