Is Twitter Now TV’s Best Promotional Vehicle?

Twitter’s decision to allow third party sites to run tweets as native advertising may be the best news the television industry has gotten in quite a while. It means that they’ll be able to use Twitter to drive tune-in from audiences who have traditionally avoided the platform like the plague.

In advance of their IPO, Twitter had managed to convince people outside of the television industry that they were particularly relevant to the television industry. Only the combination of Nielsen’s questionable Twitter ratings and the fact that Twitter’s user base didn’t cover a wide enough range of demographics called that into question, particularly when the shows receiving the most Twitter love were not the same shows receiving the most ratings love.

But that’s all about to change.

Twitter’s made some very smart changes over the past few months, changes that will greatly increase its value to networks seeking to use it as a promotional vehicle.

The ability to insert tweets as native ads is the main one. This gives networks the ability to run tweets from the show itself, the showrunner, characters, popular actors or even other fans onto apps and sites where the audience is most likely to see them.

Twitter recently added a native video feature too, which allows networks to attach a :30 clip to their tweets to further tease audiences. That’s perfect for attracting mobile users, as “tweet ads” have the ability to run on both desktop and mobile, even inside apps.

Thanks to another innovation — a deal with Google that allows tweets to show up in search results, the tweet ads will gain a second life, attracting potential viewers who are looking for information about a show and providing them with video clips, photos and previews, all of which should help drive the long tail.

The biggest boon though will come from the data that’s gathered from the tweet ads. Networks will be able to see everything from which tweets got the most clickthough, the most video views, the most retweets, the most shares and then learn who was engaging, what sites, during what times and around what content. They’ll also be able to see which messaging seemed to affect ratings and then adjust for the following week.

That’s a powerful toolset, one that’s never been available to the television industry before.

Tweet ads can also open up new revenue streams: networks can now sell co-branded tweets that run in tandem with commercials, giving brands the ability to enjoy the halo effect of the show in a format that’s not interruptive. And since tweet ads will be clickable, there’s an interactive element that should also please advertisers.

Here again, the data that’s collected will be of great value both to the network, as it shapes its ad pitch and to the advertiser as they shape their marketing message.

Tweet ads can even be used to cross-promote shows: networks can have their most popular franchises tweet about new shows, providing video clips to entice viewers and again, using the data collected to better understand their audience.

With both Facebook and Twitter stepping up their video activity, 2nd screen has never been more important as a promotional vehicle. Twitter adds the potential of making 2nd screen a monetization vehicle too, making it an even more valuable asset for the television industry.

This piece first ran on the 2nd Screen Society blog.