Twitter and the monetization of the second screen

Twitter’s been buying again… 

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 22.32.36 (1)

According to sources, Twitter just bought US-based social TV analytics firm, Bluefin Labs. While the actual number is still an ‘undisclosed figure’, early reports state that this is Twitter’s ‘biggest acquisition to date’.

A few things:

1. This is REALLY interesting

Twitter and TV is clearly going to be HUGE. During the panel I was on at Social TV Conference London recently I remember saying something along the lines of –  ‘Let’s just be honest: second screen engagement is basically Twitter, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about that.’

I was being deliberately forthright but, looking back on it now, I don’t think I could’ve been any more right.

2. Is this is Twitter buying *outside* of their ‘API quadrant’?

Last summer, much was made about Twitter’s changes to their API. However what made it ultimately clear to everyone on what (and what was not) fair game was this one simple chart –

twitter-api-chart

At the time, Twitter made it very clear that they were encouraging developers to no longer create apps that existed in the upper-right quadrant. In fact, they went so far as to call out the guys they thought were doing a great job in the other areas – stand up Klout, Radian6, and Storify.

However, with this acquisition, Twitter are now parking their tanks on the lawns of many many TV analytics firms out there today, and who can blame them?

My point is: Twitter are moving the goal posts again. To wit:

‘You can develop on our API but as soon as there’s serious money to be made… we’ll have our ball back please.’

3. Monetizing the second screen is clearly the next big thing

This is hardly news but, after the massive success of Twitter at the Superbowl this past weekend (earning mentions in 50% of all advertising)… hang on, before we go any further, some fag packet analysis:

  • Superbowl ads cost (for airtime alone) $3.8m per 30seconds
  • $3,800,000 / 30secs = $126,666.66 per second
  • 26 of the (presumed) 52 ads featured during the Superbowl had hashtags appended to them
  • Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that those ads ran those hashtags for 2-3seconds (it’s probably more, so let’s shoot for the top end of that spectrum)
  • 3secs x 26 ads = 78seconds
  • 78 x $126,666.66 = $9,879,999.48

Which means that during Superbowl 2013, Twitter scored just shy of 9.9million dollars of FREE ADVERTISING.

Wow.

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes, brands are on the Twitter train (for second screen activity) and the great ones are killing it. How long will it be until others catch on? 5, 4, 3…

4. Bluefin now, Second Sync next? 

From what I can tell, Bluefin are US only. Which is great, and an obvious win for that team (second screening in the US is clearly the most advanced / widely accepted). However the immediate question is: what’s next for the rest of the world’s TV social analytics market?

The smart money would be on the UK’s Second Sync being next. At a recent London Twitter event, #PoweredByTweets, Second Sync data was present in nearly every presentation – and Twitter were happy to say so too. They clearly do the best job, they’ve clearly been anointed as the chosen ones in this particular region, so are they clearly next in line for aquisition? Place your bets now please…

5. Social TV + The Future

It now goes without saying that 2013 really will be the year of Social TV. There’ll be a lot of snake oil salesmen out there and separating the wheat from the chaff will certainly make for interesting viewing indeed.

Bring it on, creatives of 2013, let’s see what you’ve got.

 

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Letters of Note: GMTV Fan Mail

Many moons ago (just over ten years in fact), I got my first job in London working at Good Morning Television, aka – GMTV.

It was fairly awesome and, as part of my job was collecting the waiver forms from all the guests that appeared on the sofa, I got to meet some many lovely people. But those stories are for another day.

Recently, while sorting through some old boxes, I found this immensely amusing piece of ‘fan mail’ that I must’ve pocketed and filed at some point along the way. God knows why I kept it and God knows why I only found it this past weekend.

Anyway, here it is – for your amusement.

Letters of note

[click to embiggen]

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GMTV Ltd
The London Television Centre
Upper Way
London
SE1 9TT

13th November 2001

Dear Sirs

For the first time this morning I watched GMTV’s spoof comedy show with superb actress Lorrain Kelly. What a great show, you have captured perfectly the worst of television and put it all together in one entirely believable package. The dreadful sets, moronic competitions, garish coloured furniture, wobbly camera tracking, awful guests, and the ubiquitous ‘make-over‘ absolutety superb.

The sketch this morning with some dreadful woman in a supposedly expensive coat was as good as anything French & Saunders or Victoria Wood has done. The hesitation before walking out on the unstable ‘cat-walk’ had me roaring with laughter.

I am surprised we do not see more of Ms Kelly on television; she must be one of our best comedy actress’. I trust negotiations are ongoing to move this show to an evening prime time slot and I look out for it eagerly.

At a time when there has been so much bad news in the world this type of clever comedy was just what I needed, my congratulations to all involved.

Yours faithfully

JS Scott

——————————————

For what it’s worth, Lorraine Kelly is a genuinely lovely person and, the few times that I appeared on the sofa with her*, she was always super nice to me. This letter is slightly mean, but fairly tongue in cheek.

So thank you, JS Scott – whomever you may be – on a day in November in 2001, you made me and my fellow colleagues laugh. A lot.

Cheers.

Perhaps it’ll even make it onto Letters of Note

 

*Yep. Really. And I’m never giving you the footage (my Mum has it recorded somewhere, I’m sure).

 

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Current attempts at television-based social media integration are failing, hard.

How do we fix them?

To find the solution, we first need to fully understand the problem.

2screen / dual-screen / second-screen — all are different names for the kind of integration that I’m referring to and it’s something I’ve been kicking around in my head ever since I went to my first 2screen event back in October 2010.

It was a big deal then and it’s a bigger deal now.

With the increase of iPad penetration and the continuous growth of the smartphone market, the notion of 2screening is becoming more and more commonplace. In fact, a recent Neilsen survey found that 80% of tablet and 78% of smartphone owners used their device while watching TV at least once during a 30 day period.

In the app-world, services such as ZeeBox and Sky Sports for iPad are doing very good things indeed. Both integrating news, stats and social media streams into your second screen; providing a suitable data-based accompaniment to your visual consumption.

However, I want to talk about television-based social media integration (not app-based).
This kind of stuff –

That’s how Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance‘ handles it and many other broadcasters follow suit. BBC One is getting in on the act too, here using a Twitter wall backstage for the UK edition of ‘The Voice‘.

Twitterwall

What do these examples all have in common?

Fundamentally, they are all bringing (or at least attempting to bring) the conversation from the second screen, to the first. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, kind of defeats the object of the second screen.

Whether it’s reading out tweets during the credits of Celebrity Juice on ITV2 or talking about Facebook wall posts inbetween programmes on BBC3, broadcasters seem to be obsessed with sharing (read ‘owning’) viewer social media.

Recognising that conversation takes place away from their platform(s), TV + social media work best together when television directs its audience to the conversation medium, as opposed to smashing them in the face with it via another.

Sorority Girls, an E4 TV show, flashes up their hashtag both at the start and at the end of their show as well as when going into ad breaks.

This is good! This is television saying –

‘Hey, perhaps some people are actually watching our shows when they’re on and, instead of going to the kettle during an ad break, they’re turning to Twitter!’

– and giving the audience a your hashtag at this point is a very good idea. You own it, you guide it, you track it.

Ignoring The Voice for a second, the BBC actually do this quite well, both with Question Time and Have I Got News For You, for example:

via Roo Reynolds

Little pointers like this give you, the viewer, the option of tracking (and joining) the back-channel. If you understand what it means, you join the conversation. Perfect.

I guess this is one big plea to broadcasters to just stop reading out tweets and Facebook updates on the telly. Seriously, it just doesn’t work.

Finally, and returning to the opening image of this post, the new trailer for Prometheus aired recently during the first break of Homeland. Channel 4’s own announcer was employed also, asking viewers to tweet their reactions using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis.

So far, so good. Right? Right.

Except that, 20mins later (during the next ad break), those very tweets were displayed onscreen for all to see.

via Digital Examples

Yes that’s actually a TV ad you’re seeing there, with (clearly moderated) tweets displaying instead of your usual commercial break. Mental.

Reports state that this activity reached a potential audience of 15m users. (Note: POTENTIAL audience. That’s the number of every tweet with the hashtag, multiplied by their sum of their followers – ie: not a real number). And while this kind of exercise is a great advert for Twitter, it leaves existing fans and users feeling a bit… empty.

In closing, encouraging viewers to join an online conversation is one thing, replaying that conversation to them 20mins later is just a pain in the oculars.

Discuss.

 

 

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A Hero’s Quest: Launching a TV channel in 2009

Back in the Spring, I attended a launch party for a new free-to-air digital channel called Quest TV.

Unfortunately, due to some last minute complications, the launch was inexplicably delayed and is now scheduled to go live tomorrow instead.

What follows it the post I wrote on May 22nd. Most of the points still stand so I have no qualms about dusting it off and finally publishing.

Your thoughts and comments, as always, are welcome.

Enjoy.

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Hero Quest was one of my favourite board games when i was a kid. Yeah you had your Monopoly and your Cluedo, but when it came to getting your Wizard on (and if D&D was too complicated) then Hero Quest was the way to go…

Last night folks, I attended the launch party for Quest TV.

With previews of programs such as Heli-loggers, Rescue Me and the old school Mission Impossible, the whole package was delivered in a jaunty, rather tongue-in-cheek but seriously amusing way.

However, because of the trek down to London from my office in Marlow however, I was late and arrived just as they were showing the channel’s idents. These I thought were quite clever and the scope to expand on them is definitely there, but we’ll come back to this one later.

As the evening went on I was introduced to a couple of representatives from Discovery – the television company behind Quest TV, and we spoke about how/why the social media outreach had been done specifically for this Quest TV’s launch. Aside from the low-cost aspect (and subsequent potential ROI), they insisted it was mainly stemmed from their desire to try something different.

A courageous move for sure and one that should be applauded. What with there being no real case studies to point to (regarding successes/failures with new ‘old media’ channel launches), they have carte blanche to pretty much do as they please. New TV Channels are a rarity here in the UK, so it’ll be interesting to see how they move this forward; it was noted at the time that the worst thing they could possibly do right now, would be to reach out… and then walk away.

Social media isn’t a channel, it’s the nonsense term applied to all things conversational and online, (these days I’ve taken to calling it ‘the web’), however – sticking to that principal – the web isn’t just another channel either. It opens up a world of interactivity and engagement which has never been seen before, especially in the world of ‘old/traditional’ media.

The idents that I touched upon earlier, are a great example of how the web could be used to further their brand.

Here’s a selection of the ones they had on show last night:

Not bad at all.

I can totally see an online campaign which involves viewers at home producing their own Quest TV idents. The ones shown above are short, fun and relatively easy to make. Why not further the conversation by reaching out to your own ‘users’ to help build the Quest TV brand?

Or, maybe ask viewers if they are on some kind of quest themselves. I’m reminded of the Britglyph project which famously had a mad Scotsman take part by placing his own rock in the rain in the middle of the night.
Hilarious, but awesome.

If that was online, what kind of scope do we have with TV?

Like I said the channel launches tomorrow and it seems Quest have already dipped their toes in, let’s see if they’re ready for a swim.

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