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One Reason Twitter's Confident About Its Ad Possibilities

One of the big questions facing social media giant Twitter ahead of its New York Stock Exchange debut this week is how much money it could actually make for investors.

"We have incurred significant operating losses in the past, and we may not be able to achieve or subsequently maintain profitability," the company writes, in its business prospectus.

Twitter expects revenue growth, but that it will be slow. We've written before on how it's planning on cornering mobile advertising as its main revenue booster. These user numbers a new Pew/Knight study out this week help its argument.

Even though Facebook dwarfs Twitter in the number of users (Facebook's at more than one billion to Twitter's 200 million), the study shows those who consume news on Twitter are younger, better educated and more mobile than Facebook news consumers. That's a huge selling point for Twitter in its bid to lure advertisers. Pew and Knight note:

"Mobile devices are a key point of access for these Twitter news consumers. The vast majority, 85%, get news (of any kind) at least sometimes on mobile devices. That outpaces Facebook news consumers by 20 percentage points; 64% of Facebook news consumers use mobile devices for news. The same is true of 40% of all U.S. adults overall, according to the survey.

Twitter news consumers stand out for being younger and more educated than both the population overall and Facebook news consumers.

Close to half, 45%, of Twitter news consumers are 18-29 years old. That is more than twice that of the population overall (21%) and also outpaces young adults' representation among Facebook news consumers, where 34% are 18-29 years old. Further, just 2% of Twitter news consumers are 65 or older, compared with 18% of the total population and 7% of Facebook news consumers."

The study is based on survey data and a multi-year data analysis of tweets around news events.

That this group relies on Twitter as a "second screen" during major news events means Twitter can promise advertisers an "in" to target certain groups at moments they're paying attention. The mobile-first behavior also plays well into the company's revenue plan, as it recently acquired MoPub, the world's largest mobile ad exchange, as a way to sell mobile ads that target their dedicated users based on data that Twitter has collected from them.

For more on Twitter's business prospects, check out Joe Hagan's piece from New York Magazine, or Will Oremus, in Slate.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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