X (Twitter) Advertising: Pros, Cons, & How to Get Started

Twitter began to support advertisements in early 2010, several years late to the party, and following the footstep of one of its biggest competitors: Facebook.
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In the decade since then, X (Twitter) has quickly become a social networking giant, with 26% of its over 200 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) spending more time looking at Twitter ads than with other leading social media advertising platforms.

It can be overwhelming for an advertiser, a brand, or an agency to decide which social media platform they should leverage to improve their paid marketing efforts. Popularity doesn't always equate to optimum results, and Twitter is no exception. This article is meant to help you navigate Twitter advertising, its pros and cons, and provide useful information to know before deciding whether it is the right platform for your advertising needs.

What is X (Twitter) Advertising?

Twitter advertising is a social media advertising model used to promote a brand, product, or service on Twitter. Advertisers can target users based on different campaign objectives:

  • Awareness: used to create/increase awareness.
  • Consideration: used to get people to watch your video, install your app, drive traffic to your website, grow your followers base, or simply spark a conversation with your promoted tweet.
  • Conversion: used to get people to take certain actions in your app.

Typically, users interact with ads in three forms: promoted tweets, promoted accounts, or promoted trends. But the variations in each allow advertisers to get quite creative with their messaging. With its video ad formats, for instance, you can decide to advertise your video as an in-stream video ad, allowing Twitter to run your video ad within another video content.

There are also other ad types, including website cards — which include conversation, tweet to unlock, and direct message cards. Promoted tweets can be a gif, an image, an account, or even a poll. Many features are available, from branded emojis to trend spotlights. This, coupled with the variety of ways you can target your audience — by interests, topics, follower look-alikes, etc. — is why Twitter advertising is a powerful marketing tool.

Advantages of Advertising on X (Twitter)

Low competition

Twitter is hardly the default ad platform for brands looking to invest in paid ads for the first time, with many opting for Facebook and Google Ads. This presents an excellent opportunity for brands and agencies to get started with Twitter advertising without having to compete for audiences on other large ad platforms.

User-friendly Interface

Twitter Ads Manager is intuitive to navigate, even for non-technical users, allowing you to create campaigns, monitor ad performance, and connect with analytics vendors in a way that feels natural. While the interface may seem somewhat sterile, lacking advanced features that would allow marketers to do so much at a time, the fact remains that Twitter ads are much easier to create and run compared to many other social platforms.

Niche targeting functionality

While Facebook and Google Ads target users based on interests and broad factors, Twitter uses the real-time nature of the conversations taking place on the platform to extend its targeting. Thus, when you run ads on Twitter, you have the additional option to target @example_username look-alike audiences, people who tweet about or engage in conversations around certain movies & TV shows, tens of thousands of topics, offline and online events, etc.

High potential for virality

Although Twitter indeed has an overall smaller user base compared to Facebook or Google, its high potential for virality is undeniable. Retweeting forms the backbone of the user-to-user conversation on Twitter, and it can often have the effect of converting users who might not otherwise click through to your product.

High-intent users

Twitter has a unique set of demographics. Most of its users are 25 to 34 years old, with about 42% having a college degree or higher. They also tend to be heavy users of smartphones and are usually up to date with the latest technological, economic, political, environmental, and similar trends. This makes them more likely to recognize and eagerly adopt innovative solutions relevant to their professional and personal lives.

Disadvantages of Advertising on X

Customer support issues

"Twitter's not so good either," laments Dan Wardrope, comparing the platform's customer support with that of Facebook Ads. "It's hard to get support and help within your campaigns and get a Twitter [ad] up and things like that." This outcry seems to echo throughout the circle of advertisers using the platform to run ad campaigns. For many, their complaints were met with a one-line response that didn't even remotely address the issue.

Too pricey

Twitter ads are more expensive than Instagram and Facebook ads. Also, if you're not vigilant, your daily ad budget can easily be spent in a few minutes irrespective of whether you selected standard or accelerated delivery.

Unusual moderation

Twitter ads go through an approval window that takes anything from 48 hours to a couple of days — up to two weeks for some advertisers. Twitter says that it uses this window to review ad placements based on "how an account uses Twitter, its profile, its content, and targeting included in any active or draft advertising campaigns."

Additionally, the platform assigns ad scores for advertisers, which are similar to Google Ads' quality score — or Facebook's relevance score — in that they measure how likely target users are to engage with an ad. Campaign tweets with higher ad scores are then served more often and at a lower cost.

Twitter might have sound reasons to hide the ad score metric and have ads pass through the approval window. These avoidable hiccups, however, ruin the user experience for advertisers who are not used to the platform's peculiar moderation practices.

Excessive bots

The recent Elon Musk saga sheds light on the discussion about the prevalence of spam bots on the platform. Many advertisers end up paying to reach hundreds of thousands of bots masquerading as real users, thus diluting the effectiveness of a brand's campaign in particular, and its marketing operation in general.

Across all advertising platforms — social, web, and otherwise — bots remain a challenging problem, but the issue is even more pronounced on Twitter.

Learn more: Twitter's Bot Problem: How Bad Is It for Businesses?

Are Twitter / X Ads still worth it in 2023?

Well… "It's true – Twitter has its problems, but in certain cases and contexts, it truly is the best ad platform you'll find – though ultimately it will depend on what you hope to accomplish," said Larry Kim in 2016. Today, the answer remains the same. In certain cases, Twitter Ads are worth the investment. While Twitter isn't the most cost-effective medium for advertising, it is a powerful tool for brand awareness and traction. Despite its limitations, the platform is still capable of bringing about momentous cultural shifts in mainstream advertising.

Check out Spider AF's 14-day free trial and start getting the most out of your Twitter Ads campaign - no CC required!

Frequently Asked Questions about Advertising on Twitter

How do I start advertising on X (Twitter)?

First, you need to set up a Twitter account for your business. Once created, you can navigate to the Twitter Ads Manager and choose your objectives, whether it's for awareness, consideration, or conversions. From there, you can select your targeting options, campaign budget, and decide on the types of ads you want to run, such as image ads or video views.

What are the targeting options available for X (Twitter) Ads?

Twitter offers a range of targeting options that allow you to reach different audiences based on factors such as demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. For example, you can target users similar to a particular follower base, or those talking about specific topics relevant to your business.

Can I control my spending with a daily budget on Twitter Ads?

Yes, you can control your spending by setting a daily budget for your campaigns. This ensures that you never spend more than you're comfortable with at any given time. Note that the auction system Twitter uses may impact how quickly your budget is spent based on the competition and the ad's relevance.

Is there a way to target only my country with X (Twitter) Ads?

Absolutely. Twitter allows you to target users by country, among other geographic and demographic details. When creating your ad campaign, you can specify the locations where you want to serve your ads, ensuring that they are seen by customers in your desired country.

What should I note about the growth and engagement of my follower base through Twitter Ads?

It's important to note that while Twitter Ads can help with the growth of your follower base, engagement will depend on the quality and relevance of your content. Promoted ads and image ads can improve visibility, but ultimately, content that resonates with your audience will foster higher engagement rates.

How do businesses ensure their promoted ads are shown to the right audiences?

Businesses can ensure their promoted ads are shown to the right audiences by using Twitter's detailed targeting options. This includes targeting by keywords, interests, follower look-alikes, and other targeting options to match different audiences. By tailoring each ad group specifically, companies can increase the relevance and effectiveness of their campaigns.

Can I run more than one ad group within the same campaign on Twitter?

Yes, you can run multiple ad groups within a single campaign on Twitter. Each one ad group can have its own set of ads, targeting, and budgets within the overall campaign budget. This allows you to test different strategies and creatives against different audiences simultaneously.

What types of ads can I create for a Twitter campaign?

For a Twitter campaign, you can create various types of ads including promoted tweets, image ads, video views ads, and website cards. Each type can be tailored to meet specific campaign goals, and you can use a mix of these within one ad group for a dynamic approach.

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