The Battle For Data From Social TV
As you undoubtedly know by now, the 7th of November was an historic day. It was the day that saw an event which highlighted the changing world we live in, and the way that power is now channeled.
I’m talking, of course, about the fact that within a few hours, a photo posted on Twitter had become the most retweeted since Twitter’s creation. Obviously the photo itself was pretty historic, marking as it did Barack Obama’s victory in the US Presidential elections, but that’s a subject for a different blog.
Four more years. twitter.com/BarackObama/st…
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
What was fascinating about the “Four more years” photo is that it highlighted once and for all, as if we needed any further confirmation, that people now experience major events on two, if not three, or even four, screens.
Tens of millions of Americans were still glued to their TV screens (not to mention the countless other millions around the globe); but, at the same time, many millions were furiously tweeting and picking up news from the social platform. And whilst this is great news for Twitter, it highlights growing issues for traditional broadcasters and brands.
Just as it shouldn’t be news anymore that people are using digital platforms to connect with each other around content and events such as the election, or a show like American Idol, it’s also not news that TV stations, like newspapers before them, are trying to work out how to turn the rise of the Web to their advantage.
And whilst Twitter COO Dick Costolo might claim that they are “saving” TV, I would argue that many networks probably view them with as much suspicion as love: as a frenemy, if you like. Because what TV stations have always sold to advertisers is attention, and data around what that attention can do for the advertisers (in terms of awareness, recall, etc.). But now, that attention is, as often as not, focussed on products like Twitter.
This means that Twitter has access to huge amounts of data about what people are doing, and the TV stations want this data, too. You have to guess that it’s a large reason that NBC signed a deal with Twitter. It’s also why TV stations around the world are either investing in, partnering with, or creating their own social TV applications. The problem here, of course, is that they all have to battle with the mass audience that Twitter already has, and that could be a tough battle, indeed.
So what does this mean for us as marketers? I would argue that it means that whilst it almost certainly makes sense to look at how to integrate Twitter into broadcast campaigns, as I’ve said before, it also means that, just like the TV stations, we need to be thinking about the data that our campaigns create, or about how we can work with content creators to learn more about our audiences.
Because, if we don’t, Twitter (and Facebook et al) will hold all the data, and we’ll all end up — media owners and brands alike — having to pay them to find out about the people who watch our shows and buy our products.
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