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Twitter: riches or ruin for broadcasters

Having just returned from IBC2013, I can tell you that at least the exhibitors were fully engaged with products that support dual-screen audiences and all the social media that entails. What I couldn’t see was the level of interest from broadcasters in all things Twitter and social media. While researching for this article, I saw one writer question broadcasters’ love affair with social media as simply a quest for additional income. Maybe, but so what?

Said Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer, Nielsen, “… we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets, and, conversely, a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in.”

In plain English, that means there is a connection between increased Twitter activity and increased ratings, but even the experts can’t tell which is cause and which is effect.

Several new TV programs have embraced the use of Twitter and social media: “Game of Thrones,” “Emmy Awards” and “Fox News” via Bing polls. While the implementations are different, the goal is the same: increase participation and viewership of the content.

The changes are hardly one-sided, with broadcasters hawking Twitter. The 140-character message company has itself launched several projects to gain additional advertising and broadcaster participation. Twitter recently purchased the companies Bluefin, a data-analytics company that tracks the real-time sentiment about video, and the digital and social media business intelligence platform, Trendrr.

One Twitter product that has captured broadcaster attention is Amplify, which allows the insertion of video clips with ads into the Twitter stream. CBS recently signed up for the service. Other Amplify partners include BBC America, Fox and The Weather Channel. The CBS partnership involves 20 of the company’s brands and 42 of its shows. One of the concepts being discussed is a clip service that will summarize “60 Minutes.” It’s called “60 Minutes In 60 Seconds.”

The Amplify program will feed users video clips from Twitter’s partners, accompanied by short advertisements. Those tweeted videos will connect with TV programs from Amplify partners, like CBS, as well as commercials. The Amplify partners will target their videos at users with promoted tweets.

I admit to being a skeptic, but there are some big-time players and a ton of money being shoved at these partnerships. Whether viewers may get tired of seeing similar an ads on both TV and Twitter remains an unanswered question. In addition, will those who Tweet during a program push back when targeted with show-related advertising?

The company is estimated to generate more than $1 billion in advertising revenue next year, which is anything but small change. Of course, a lot of this recent activity may be directed at Twitter’s predicted year’s end IPO.

We should have more answers about how Twitter users engage with broadcast content by next IBC. Meanwhile, to give readers some advance guidance, Broadcast Engineering conducted last month an Avid-sponsored web seminar on the use of social media. The seminar lays an excellent groundwork for understanding many of these issues. In addition, it offers suggestions on how to place your bets now on a winning strategy. That free web seminar is available here.

Brad Dick, Editorial Director