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The Battle of Facebook vs Twitter Ads: Who Has Lower CPC?

December 18, 2019 • By

Scott Ayres

The quickest way to drive traffic to your website is by using ads on social media.

But the cost of those clicks is always an issue. Spend too much—and the ad is a complete waste of time, energy, and money.

Twitter and Facebook are great platforms to run ads and drive traffic. But which one delivers the lowest cost per click (CPC)?

We will tackle that question (and find an answer) in today’s Social Media Lab experiment.

Statistica reports Twitter has nearly 30 million daily active monetizable users in the United States during the second quarter of 2019:

Twitter stats

This number might seem small compared to overall monthly active Twitter users in the US, which is about 70 million, but this is the number of users that see ads. That likely means the other users only manage their accounts inside apps.

Facebook reports about 221 million month active users in the US, according to Statistica:

facebook monthly users

Facebook doesn’t publish a monetizable user statistics as Twitter does. Even if that number were half of the monthly users, that’s over 100 million potential sets of eyes to advertise to.

Falcon.io found the average CPC on Facebook and Twitter to be relatively even:

facebook ads cpc

But WebFx found completely different data regarding the average CPC:

ad cpc

That shows quite a difference from the Falcon data. Twitter is shown to have lower CPC and Facebook’s CPC is nearly double.

Instapage reports Twitter has an average CPC of $0.40 and Facebook obtains an average CPC of $0.57.

All that conflicting data makes it confusing and hard to determine best practices in social media.

Keep in mind that averages such as these can be misleading and not applicable to every niche and industry.

For example, check out this CPC data on Facebook from Wordstream covering various industries:

social media ads

Confused yet? Let’s end some of that confusion by testing CPC on Facebook and Twitter.

Two out of the three sources quoted above leaned towards Twitter having the lower CPC. We’ll lean that direction for our hypothesis.

Hypothesis: Twitter has a lower CPC than Facebook ads. 

best twitter ads

Testing Facebook vs Twitter Ads CPC

Two ads as identical as possible will be run on Facebook and Twitter, both driving traffic to different blog posts for the Social Media Lab.

Facebook ads 

facebook adsfacebook ads

Twitter ads

ads for twitterads for twitter

Budget

The Facebook ad budget was $525, with the actual spend ending at $518.84.

For Twitter, the ad budget and spend were €550 (that’s euros for those not in the US). We are forced to advertise in euros because our company, and Twitter account, are based in Paris. Conversion rates change often, but at the time of testing, this equals roughly $600 US dollars.

Target audience

For both Twitter and Facebook ads, we will limit them to English language preference users and filter down to focus on the following countries/regions:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • UK (Great Britain and Northen Ireland)

Facebook targeting allows advertisers to drill down, ensuring your ad is targeted at those most interested in your ads’ content.

The Facebook ad targeting based on interests looked like this:

  • Science
  • Mari Smith
  • Joel Comm
  • Social science
  • HootSuite
  • Post Planner
  • Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
  • Kim Garst
  • Sprout Social
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Buffer

We are able to target on Facebook those people who follow influencers in the social media marketing industry, as well as those that follow our competition. Doing so creates an audience much more likely to be interested in social media marketing related content, such as was used in the ads.

Twitter’s targeting is not quite as refined, but we targeted these keywords:

  • instagrammarketing
  • socialmediamarketing
  • socialmediaexaminer

We also targeted followers of the @Agorapulse Twitter account and those that had recently engaged with our tweets. Additionally, we targeted what Twitter would consider a lookalike audience. We could have targeted followers of other accounts but did not choose this option for these ads.

Data Comparing Twitter Ads vs Facebook Ads

For each platform, we’ll look at these data points:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)

CPC will be our deciding factor as to which site was the most cost-effective at driving traffic to our blog posts.

Twitter

  • Impressions: 92,431
  • Clicks: 522
  • CPC: $1.20 (after converting to USD)

Facebook

  • Impressions: 76,971
  • Clicks: 689
  • CPC: $0.76 (USD)

Facebook Ads Are More Cost-Effective Than Twitter Ads

Facebook ads resulted in fewer impressions, more clicks, and lower CPC.

This lower CPC by Facebook ads is 36.67% lower than Twitter ads—a massive difference!

twitter ad results

In other words, Twitter ads had a 57.89% higher CPC!

For Twitter to equal the 689 clicks that Facebook ads accomplished, we’d have to spend roughly $826, as opposed to the $518 spent on Facebook ads. This would result in an increase of 59% in our ad spending.

Based on the data from the Social Media Lab experiment, it’s clear Facebook ads won this battle with a much lower CPC.

Parting Thoughts on Facebook and Twitter CPC

My hypothesis for this study was incorrect. I thought Twitter would win based on the various blog posts I mentioned earlier.

In a previous Twitter ads test, we discovered really cheap clicks were being obtained by choosing the “Twitter Audience Platform.”

This targeting option is turned on by default on Twitter ads with the objective of traffic. Basically, your ad is placed in lots of apps (primarily games) and users have to click the link in the ad to proceed to the next level or to unlock an app feature.

My guess is some of those that reported very lower CPC on Twitter had this option selected. We did not select this during our testing, as we learned from our previous mistake.

The Twitter Audience Platform is great if you are running ads for mobile app installs but horrible if you are driving traffic to a website or blog posts. Stay away from it!

Facebook also has a similar audience platform, it, too, was not chosen during our testing.

If you’re looking to drive traffic to your website at the lowest CPC, I would recommend Facebook over Twitter based on our data.

However, there is still loads of value in running ads on Twitter, especially for brand recognition, tweet engagements, and traffic.

But the boss typically expects to get the most out of every dollar spent. For this study, that would be Facebook with an over 36% lower CPC than Twitter ads.

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