Project FART: How Ads Work

My study about Fake Ad Results from Twitter (project FART) continues. Data from Twitter’s reports is unreliable, and data from their API fails occasionally as well. But here’s a little background:

The way I have my ads set up is that my “objective” is to get followers, and so that’s all I pay for. So, Twitter shows my ad, but I don’t get charged for it just to show up. I don’t get charged if someone likes or retweets it – I only have to pay if someone follows me. How much does it cost per follow? That’s a very sticky subject given the questionable integrity of Twitter’s numbers, but it varies, and over time it’s averaged around $.82 per follower. It depends on the time of day, who else is buying ads, etc.

Anyway: when you set up an ad with Twitter, you put in a daily budget. My daily budget for this ad is $10, and so that means Twitter shows my ads until people click and follow me enough that I hit that $10 cap – and then Twitter stops showing the ads. So, theoretically, if I make an ad and nobody follows from it, it would get shown endlessly and I would not be charged. But something tells me they wouldn’t let that happen.

This is a screenshot of the only info Twitter provides about how many people have seen your ads and what you’re being charged for. (Not very detailed, if you ask me.) “Impressions” means the number of times the ad was shown, follows, likes, etc. are all pretty self explanatory. “Spend” is the amount I was charged in a given hour, and “cost per follow” is the average cost for each follower gained during that hour.

Today’s Discrepancy

These are some of the notifications I got earlier today about my ad tweet. I made sure to include the time stamp on this image – if you look, you’ll see that all the alerts about those ads occurred within the last hour, so they should show up in Twitter’s data for the 5:00 PM hour. Buuuuut…

From 5-6PM ET, according to notifications on Twitter’s web interface, there were at least 3 interactions with my ad, but according to their ad results, they did not show my ad once. The ad was also apparently dead during the two hours before and after 5 PM.

What does this tell us? Nothing we don’t already know. Twitter’s numbers are unreliable. But this is the first time they’ve screwed up in a way that benefits me, so I’m not complaining!

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