CEO Dick Costolo said in June that Twitter’s mobile ad strategy is working. He wasn’t kidding: it turns out Twitter will earn more revenue from mobile than Facebook in 2012, according to an estimate from eMarketer.
That’s not entirely a surprise; while Twitter’s core ad products work well in mobile, it’s taken some time for Facebook to figure out how its ads translate to a smaller screen. Facebook just began selling its Sponsored Stories news feed ads for mobile earlier this year and will take home just $72.7 million in mobile ad revenue in 2012 compared to $129.7 million for Twitter.
But Twitter’s bragging rights won’t last long, if they were ever there to begin with. Facebook’s mobile ad machine is expected gain steam in 2013, growing more than 500% in 2013 to $387 million. By 2014, it should be the second-largest seller of mobile advertising to Google.
While mobile revenue accounts for just 2% of 2012 revenue, it will grow to 7% of Facebook’s predicted $5.5 billion in display revenue in 2013. As of today, eMarketer estimates that 60% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from marketplace ads, the little boxes on the right of the newsfeed, which don’t appear in mobile.
Google is by far the dominant player in mobile advertising, largely due to mobile search. However, by 2014, eMarketer believes Facebook will match Google in mobile display advertising, which Google sells primarily through its network AdMob. Meanwhile, Pandora will remain a strong player, growing at a 62% compounded annual rate over the next few years.