Turns out Twitter does actually drive higher TV ratings

Steven Loeb · August 6, 2013 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/312f

New Nielsen study finds that Twitter drove higher ratings for 29% of television shows

As Twitter gets closer and closer to its inevitable IPO, the network has to prove that it can be a significant source of revenue for advertisers and media companies. The network launched a music app to prove it can drive music downloads, and it has been making a big push to ingratiate itself with television as well, trying to convince them that more tweets will mean higher ratings.

So here is some good news for Twitter: it turns out that it does actually have an impact on television ratings. In fact, the relationship between Twitter and television is one that is mutually benefitial, according to a new study out from Nielsen on Tuesday.

Nielsen researchers analyzed a total of 221 episodes, analyzing minute-to-minute trends in the live TV ratings and tweets, using Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the company it bought in November. And the results showed that tweets caused ratings spikes for 29% of those episodes.

Even more interesting: the ratings spikes for 48% of the shows actually caused an increase in tweets, suggesting that Twitter and television have a symbiotic relationship, where each one needs the other to thrive.

“Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of tweets, and, conversely, a spike in tweets can increase tune-in,” Paul Donato, Nielsen’s chief research officer, said in a statement. “This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing.”

The study also broke the numbers down by genre, with competitive reality shows, which would include shows like American Idol, The Voice, America's Got Talent and The X Factor, leading the pack, with 44% of those episodes being impacted by increased Twitter chatter.

The study showed that 37% of comedy shows, 29% of sports broadcasts and only 18% of dramas, were impacted as well.

Of course, increased Twitter chatter does not always mean that people are actually watching the show in question. Remember Sharknado? People liked talking about the ridiculousness of the premise more than actually sitting down to watch it.

But this is good news for Twitter, which has made ts relationship with television an integral part of its monetization and advertising strategy.

It was reported back in April that Twitter was in talks with both Viacom and Comcast's NBCUniversal to host television clips on the site, allowing it to stream videos on its site and then split the resulting ad revenue with the networks,

Twitter already has deals with ESPN, the Weather Channel and Turner Broadcasting, and these new partnerships would bring clips from other big channels, with popular content, including USA, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike and Nickelodeon. 

More recently, Twitter took its tv ad targeting software, which it premiered in beta mode in May, and expanded it to to all U.S. advertisers that run national television spots. 

The technology allows advertisers to engage directly with people on Twitter who have been exposed to their ads on live television. 

It works by identifying Tweets that correspond with that television show. Because the person was engaged enough to tweet about it, the company figures that they watched the ads as well (which, in all honesty, is a bit of a leap. It is more likely they were sending the tweets in question while the ads were playing). Twitter will then push out promoted tweets that extend those advertisements.

(Image source: https://venturebeat.com)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.