Twitter’s BOGO free ad sale: data for mobile user acquisition marketers who are tempted

By John Koetsier January 23, 2023

According to emails viewed by the Wall Street Journal, Twitter’s having a buy-one-get-one-free ad sale. Twitter BOGO means you can buy up to $250,000 in advertising, and the social/news/entertainment platform will match it with another $250,000, free of charge. 

One catch: you have to complete all your ad spend — up to $500,000 worth — by February 28, according to the WSJ story.

Twitter BOGO free ad sale: are you in or out?

As a growth marketer or mobile user acquisition specialist, you have to at least consider this. There are valid questions to be asked and answered about brand safety and the overall direction of Twitter post-acquisition by Elon Musk, of course. And there are reasons that over 500 former Twitter advertisers have reportedly paused campaigns on the news social platform.

But when you have a chance to get a 2-for-the-price-of-1 free ad sale on an established and successful advertising platform, you have to at least consider it.

Here’s some data to help you make a decision.

Mobile user acquisition spend on Twitter in 2022

Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter officially completed on October 27. But it’s hard to see how all the angst about the on-again, off-again acquisition impacted advertiser spend in calendar by Singular advertisers’ spend on the platform in calendar 2022.

Except two oddities:

  1. A massive post-summer, pre-acquisition jump
  2. No typical year-end holiday bump
Spend on Twitter 2022

Somewhat strangely, while spend jumped 144% from August to September and app installs paced spend with a 134% increase, ad impressions grew by only 38%, suggesting that Twitter presumably got much more efficient at translating traffic to cash. Clicks on ads jumped by about the same third as ad impressions.

After a sharp dip in October from the September spike, post-acquisition ad spend by Singular customers actually rose about 12% between October and December, more or less followed by impressions and clicks. 

But in a worrisome sign, app installs dropped by 52% across the board in pretty much a continuous downward-trending line between September and December 2022.

Big picture, Twitter has dropped slightly in market share for ad spend year-over-year, as clients who check the Singular Benchmarks data can verify. But its share of ad spend is higher than its share of app installs, suggesting that installs from Twitter tend to be significantly more expensive than from other sources. As sophisticated mobile marketers know, this is not necessarily a bad thing if quality is good. (More on that later.)

Moving right up to the present day, the median cost to generate an app install via Twitter is $2.32, but the range is large and extends up to $11.22.

Twitter’s placement on the Singular ROI Index for 2022

Twitter was a top-10 ad network in the Singular ROI Index for 2022, with placements on no fewer than 19 lists, including 8 rankings in the top 5 for specific categories or regions. Twitter achieved rankings on lists of top ad networks for categories such as:

  • Best ROI for Android
  • Best ROI for non-gaming
  • Top North America
  • Top EMEA
  • Top APAC
  • Top retention
  • Best ROI for iOS

In short, while Twitter wasn’t the best ad network in the world for app install marketers, it was certainly on the list of those to think about, especially in non-gaming categories. Quality has been there, historically.

Singular ROI Index 2023: where Twitter will slot in

The Singular ROI Index for 2023 has yet to be released, and I’m not going to spill the beans on all the details of where Twitter ranks right now.

But what’s increasingly obvious in the era of SKAN is that those platforms that own their own supply and demand for advertising tend to do well. I’m talking about companies that sell ads via their own tools against inventory on their own platform … the Facebooks, Googles, Snapchats, Reddits, and TikToks of the world. While Twitter has lost a lot of talent — including sales and marketing staff that big customers like to be able to contact — Twitter is in that conversation as well. 

First-party data, as everyone in adtech knows, is increasingly valuable.

What that means for the 2023 Index is that Twitter actually improved its overall positioning, coming in tied for seventh for the most rankings on top ad network lists per geo or vertical. In a year of turmoil and change, that’s no small achievement. 

(For more details, stay tuned for the release of the Singular ROI Index in a few weeks.)

Decision time: spend big on Twitter’s free ad sale now or not?

Gaming has never been a big strong suit for Twitter, so I’ll confine my remarks to non-gaming verticals. (This doesn’t mean don’t even think about it if you’re marketing a game, but it’s going to be a harder decision as a game to be a buyer on Twitter’s BOGO sale.)

Twitter has consistently ranked in the top 10 of ad networks for return on investment. If you feel that this historical achievement is likely to continue in an environment where there’s been some significant change and accompanying angst, testing the waters might be a good idea.

Some things to think about:

Do you have recent data for your app on Twitter performance?

The easiest way to say yes Twitter’s free ad sale to this opportunity is if you’ve been continually advertising on Twitter over the past 4 months. If you’ve been seeing positive ROI and no downside or significant negatives, going bigger for free is a no-brainer. 

If that’s not you, you have some (but very limited) time to do a quick test and make a decision. (Or try to negotiate an extended deadline.)

Super Bowl

One thing to keep in mind: Super Bowl 57 will be played on February 12. Activating your spend in early February in North America will compete, to some extent, with that hype. But there’s two bits of good news if you’re not a tremendously sports-oriented app:

  1. While there’s no denying it’s a massive event, globally speaking the Super Bowl is fairly regional, and you can market in APAC or EMEA with limited crossover
  2. You have until February 28 to complete your bonus campaigns, which is well past the Super Bowl time frame

And guess what: Twitter is offering this sale because it needs more revenue. That means there might be room for negotiation behind closed doors on when you actually need to complete the spend.

Cheaper ad spend for a triple boost?

Which brings up another good point: ad spend is down on Twitter in general. According to Pathmatics, the top 30 advertisers dropped their spend by 42%, contributing to “Twitter’s fourth quarter revenue [falling] about 35% year over year.”

When ad spend is down, cost per slot should be as well as there’s less competition. Which could lead to a triple boost for your Q1 Twitter ad spend:

  1. Natural boost from your paid spend
  2. Extra boost from the BOGO offer
  3. And yet more boost due to advertising in a less competitive environment, meaning that there’s potentially both cheap ad slots and less surrounding noise

The decision is yours

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. 

It’s obviously not just about the free ad sale opportunity on Twitter. It’s also about your capability and appetite for risk. But if budgets are down and belts are tightened for a ride-out-the-economic-storm strategy, you may not be able to take advantage even if you do think it is a good option.

If you have available ad dollars, however, it might just be worth diverting them to Twitter for a few weeks to take advantage of a very rare opportunity.

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