How Twitter will close its mobile ad gap

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Much has been made over the news that mobile accounts for 65 percent of Twitter’s ad sales, and for good reason: The company didn’t launch its primary ad unit for Android and iOS until February 2012, so it has gained tremendous ground in a very short time. But Peter Kafka at All Things D takes a harder look at the data from the recently filed S-1 and finds that Twitter — like so many other companies — still has a mobile ad gap compared to PC users. While Twitter was designed primarily for mobile use, the smaller screens of handsets make it hard for users to see “Promoted Accounts” and “Promoted Trends,” which are big money-makers on the PC. And, Kafka notes, that disconnect is likely to grow as the Twitter’s percentage of mobile activity ramps up.

Kafka rightly notes that Twitter’s recent efforts to emphasize images and video in its iOS app should help boost mobile ad revenues, and increasing mobile traffic to its “discover” area could also help. But I think Twitter’s recent acquisition of MoPub for a reported $350 million will be the key to unlocking big mobile ad revenues in the mid- to long term. As Antonio Garcia wrote in this insightful post a few weeks ago, MoPub operates the world’s largest mobile ad exchange and uses real-time bidding, which — as I wrote in May — promises to give the mobile-ad industry a huge boost over the next few years.

MoPub will give Twitter an enormous amount of data about their users’ behavior on the mobile web, including what sites and apps they use and what kind of content they share. That data will enable Twitter’s marketing partners to deliver highly targeted ads to users via programmatic buying. Once Twitter can figure out how to deliver those ads effectively on mobile devices, it will begin to close the mobile ad gap in a very big way — or perhaps even create one in which mobile is the more lucrative platform.