Can a small social media platform limited to 140 characters of data at a time survive when its chief competitor is projected to pull in $3.8 billion in 2011 ad revenue? The David and Goliath story, being played out in this era by Twitter and Facebook in  the online advertising market, is one to watch. And researchers are not counting out Twitter.

The latest data from eMarketer predicts that Twitter revenue will increase 210% from last year and reach $139.5 million by the end of 2011. Principal analyst at eMarketer, Debra Aho Williamson says that engagement rates at Twitter are “in some cases better than those on Facebook—despite Twitter’s relatively smaller audience.” Twitter has been working to make its service more accessible to marketers. Last year’s Promoted Products service has done well. The company is expected to introduce its self-serve platform this year, a move that will generate interest among small and medium sized businesses and will perhaps increase the service’s share of local mobile advertising expenditures.

The company’s worldwide ad revenue growth trajectory should look something like this between now and 2013:

  • 2011 $139.5 million
  • 2012 $259.9 million
  • 2013 $399.5 million

Williamson also noted that about 60% of Facebook’s ad revenue is linked to marketers who use the firm’s self-serve advertising tools. Twitter executives likely also hope to reach that statistic and if marketers find the service effective and easy to use, they may well shift more of their spending to the platform.

[Sources: Facebook revenue predicted. San Jose Business Journal. 20 Sep. 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2011; Twitter Ad Revenues to Near $400 Million by 2013. Emarketer.com. 29 Sep. 2011 Web. 10 Oct. 2011]