Twitter rolled out two advertising products on Thursday aimed at showing it wants to be television’s friend, not foe.
The social networking site, powered by its recent acquisition of social media data company Bluefin Labs, unveiled a new capability to let advertisers send follow-up ads on Twitter to people who have just seen their ad on TV. Twitter knows who those people are because they are tweeting about the shows.
Television companies will not get a cut of this money, Twitter executives said, unless they participate with Twitter and the advertiser in a separate kind of video ad partnership called Twitter Amplify, also formally announced today.
But while digital media companies like AOL and Yahoo YHOO +0.76% spent most of this spring “upfront” ad negotiation season declaring how they were going after television’s pot of advertising money, Twitter was very careful to say no such thing.
“I think what advertisers are looking for is, how do I make my TV buy go farther than it is today, and how do I make my digital buy go farther than it is today?” said Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of revenue, in an interview. “That’s why we are calling it a force multiplier, because it makes both things go farther.”
So far, advertisers are using their digital budgets, not TV budgets, to pay for this kind of advertising. Tim Castree, managing director of MediaVest, worked with Microsoft MSFT +0.12% on an early test of the advertising format.
“While the formal distinctions between ‘TV’ and ‘Digital’ budgets are fast eroding for us and our clients, our investments in Twitter tend to be largely incremental to TV,” he said. “It’s extending the reach and performance of our TV spend by leveraging the social influence of the engaged television viewer.”
Using Bluefin labs technology, Twitter will monitor TV airwaves to see which ads are showing when, and then cross reference that information with the identity of Twitter users Tweeting about shows. The two streams of data together will let Twitter serve advertisements to people who are tweeting about shows while they are on the air.
Twitter tried out the technology in test mode with advertiser Microsoft, and plans to roll out to a “limited number of beta partners” beginning Thursday, according to Matt Derella, Twitter’s director of brand and agency strategy, because the company does not yet have the resources to open it to everyone.
Even with such limitations, the initial concerns about the product were about the potential volume of ads. Jim Nail, an analyst at Forrester, said he believed consumers would have a “very low tolerance” for a scenario in which every one of the 10-15 ads that appear during a half-hour television program generated a follow-up ad in that viewer’s Twitter stream.
“Unless Twitter puts a cap on the number of ads shown and uses data about the individual to be selective about which ads are relevant, they will alienate users and cause them to unfollow the program,” he wrote.
Twitter’s caps on the frequency with which users see ads will not change with the new targeting capability, according to a Twitter spokesman.
Separately, Twitter put an official name on the video advertising tie-ups it has been doing with television channels recently – Twitter Amplify – and rolled out a list of new partners. These include A&E, The Audience, Bloomberg TV, Clear Channel, Conde Nast, Discovery, Major League Baseball, National Cinemedia, New York Magazine, PGA Tour, Variety, Time Inc., Vevo, Warner Music, WWE, and Vice. Previous partners include ESPN, Turner Sports, The Weather Channel, BBC America, Fuse and Fox.
Unlike the ad targeting product, Twitter Amplify brings money to the media partners, who sell pre-roll video advertising before clips of their content that are embedded in the Twitter stream. Twitter makes money when these same advertisers pay to “promote” these tweets.
Source: Wall Street Journal, 5/24/13