As the race for second screen dominance continues, Twitter is changing how it reports its own TV-related reach.
In a new blog post, Twitter says tweets about Sunday night’s Oscar Awards had 3.3 billion impressions worldwide in the 12-hour period from 5:00 pm ET Sunday until 5:00 am ET Monday.
That’s “billion” with a B.
This is the first time Twitter has revealed a total impressions figure, and it’s a change from Twitter’s typical reporting of tweet activity. In fact, just a few hours after the Oscars ended, Twitter posted that there were 14.7 million tweets about the awards telecast, and 17.1 million if you include the red carpet and post-Awards activity.
What Are Twitter “Impressions”?
The new impressions figure is obviously a lot different than a count of tweets. Twitter says impressions are “how many times Tweets are displayed to users”, which makes it something akin to page views.
Twitter says the impressions figure includes views that are generated when news outlets and others embed tweets on their websites. So, when someone like CNN takes Ellen Degeneres’ record-breaking tweet and embeds it on their site, all of those tweet views on CNN.com are counting in Twitter’s impressions count.
Why Tweet Impressions Matter
It’s no secret that Twitter has millions of lurkers — people that have accounts but don’t actually post any tweets. So, from Twitter’s perspective, the mere counting of tweets posted about an event isn’t really the best indicator of Twitter’s reach. And reach is what matters when it comes to attracting brands and advertisers.
Twitter and Facebook are battling hard for advertiser, media and user attention in a race to decide which platform is the one used most as a second screen (television being the first screen). This is especially true when it comes to live events.
Ellen’s tweet is a great example of this. It earned attention as the most retweeted tweet ever (currently about 3.2 million retweets), but as we reported after the Oscars, it was also enormously viral on Facebook with about 2.1 million “likes” at the moment.
Twitter’s new impressions figure puts both of those numbers to shame. The company says Ellen’s tweet was really seen about 32.8 million times.
So, think about impressions as a matter of Twitter trying to turn the dial even louder in proclaiming itself as the second screen king.
Facebook, the ball is in your court now.
Postscript: Some extra info to pass along… Twitter tells us that its count of impressions only includes Twitter-owned properties like Twitter.com and the official Twitter apps. It doesn’t include impressions in third-party apps. So Twitter’s numbers are at least a little bit undercounted — likely not enough to change the 3.3 billion estimate, but something to keep in mind when tweet impressions are discussed in the future.