A brief pause and an offhand joke between panels featuring Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and Facebook global marketing solutions VP Carolyn Everson at CES in Las Vegas this week gave a hint to just how fierce the competition is between Facebook and Twitter for advertising clients.
Costolo and Everson appeared on stage at the giant consumer electronics conference here as guests of Michael Kassan, a longtime ad media consultant. They did not appear together on stage, however. Costolo went first, in a talk with with his biggest client, Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, the massive ad agency holding company. Onstage, both Costolo and Levy wore silver Twitter logo lapel pins.
Everson went second, on a panel featuring executives from her clients, such as Salesforce, Ford and MillerCoors.
But as the first panel ended, there was a longer-than-planned pause between Costolo and Levy walking offstage, and Everson and her colleagues (ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey of Salesforce, chief marketing officer Andrew England of MillerCoors and Global VP/Marketing and Sales Jim Farley of Ford) arriving to take their place.
As Kassan waited for them, alone on stage, he quipped, “I think this is my Michael Bay moment!” That’s a reference to the movie director getting flummoxed by a teleprompter and walking offstage during the big Samsung announcement two days before.
After Everson arrived a few seconds later, she said, “Apologies for the delay backstage because I had to give Maurice Levy a Facebook pin because I noticed he was wearing a Twitter pin.”
The audience laughed.
But the notion of Twitter and Facebook marking their territory among advertisers to pin down their ad budgets is a serious one. Last April, Twitter signed a reported $US600 million deal with Publicis and its media buying unit, Starcom, giving Publicis clients a closer “first-look” type relationship with company. Clients with special access to that deal include Coca-Cola.
Both Facebook and Twitter are fighting to persuade TV advertisers to devote more of their budgets to their competing platforms; both regard themselves as a second-screen that viewers turn to when shows bore or excite them, or when they tune out during ad breaks.