Twitter made three deals recently all of which indicate the microblog platform believes its future is in TV ad dollars. Consider:
First, Twitter’s new Ads API allows companies like TBG Digital to buy promoted tweet campaigns against the nightly TV schedule, as if tweets were like TV ads. Why? Because people like to tweet while they watch TV. Here’s a chart from Twitter ad buyer TBG Digital showing the enhanced effect of advertising that also uses a Twitter campaign:
Second, Twitter recently acquired Bluefin Labs, a social TV measurement company. Twitter believes there is a strong, symbiotic connection between Twitter and TV watching — and it intends to prove that to advertisers with hard metrics.
Third, Twitter did a deal with Nielsen to measure the “brand lift” effect that promoted tweets have on consumers. Nielsen, obviously, is most famous for measuring TV audiences. It measures lots of other things as well, but it is not a coincidence that Twitter is using the company that sets the standard for TV measurement to also measure its advertising.
Lastly, Twitter president/global revenue Adam Bain just told the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit that advertisers don’t need complicated algorithms (hello, Facebook!) to deliver their messages. They can just look at who is tweeting about them: “There is no algorithm standing between you and your audience, if you have worked hard to get somebody to follow your brand… You are what you tweet, who you follow and what you re-tweet, and those are all great signals for what you are passionate about right now.”
Note that Facebook has made a bunch of similar moves. Both companies face the same macroeconomic logic: With the easy money already on their platforms, they now need to attack catagories where very large amounts of ad dollars — budgets that will move the needle into the billions — can be transferred.
And both Twitter and Facebook are making the same argument about “attribution.” Both companies believe they can show advertisers directly which ads are responsible for sales. (Bain told the Adobe meeting, “I’d love to see an evolution of attribution. … We think it could be bigger and better.”) That’s a powerful argument because television, infamously, has difficulty showing advertisers that the people who saw their ads then bought the products because of it.
The difference between Twitter and Facebook, however, is that Twitter needs TV shows to generate topics for people to tweet about. Facebook, however, appears to be leaning toward becoming its own major video platform, like YouTube is, and doesn’t need the traditional TV industry to survive.