Emily Tan
Oct 31, 2014

Twitter needs TV more than TV needs Twitter: Danny Keens

HONG KONG – For all the doom and gloom around the survival of the TV industry, the truth is it’s still “the biggest game in town” insists Twitter’s global chair of television Danny Keens in an interview.

Danny Keens speaking at Casbaa 2014 on 29 October
Danny Keens speaking at Casbaa 2014 on 29 October

Keens was in town to speak at the Casbaa Convention. “When we launch a country office, our first hire is a TV lead,” he said. This is because Twitter is counting heavily on monetising TV content via three revenue generation avenues. The first is via Twitter TV Ratings which has been launched in partnership with Nielsen in the US, with Kantar in the UK and, more recently, with Video Research in Japan.

“Broadcasters can take the numbers of the buzz and volume happening on Twitter to a client or an agency and prove that viewers are highly socially engaged with the programme and they should pay a premium to advertise during the show,” said Keens. “Brand recall purchase intent and favourability are also higher when [audiences] are engaged with TV.”

In partnership with Nielsen US, Twitter claims that viewers who Tweet about a show while said show is on TV are much less likely to change the channel and have better ad recollection afterwards. The study found that users who are only watching TV have a 17 per cent chance of changing the channel, a 13 per cent chance if they’re using a mobile phone and only 8 per cent chance if they’re engaged online.

When it comes to ad recall, viewers have a 53 per cent chance of remembering an ad screened during a programme if they were posting on Twitter versus the 40 per cent who were just watching TV. “We figure its’ because people tend to stay in front of the box so they’re still hearing the ads and ‘meercat-ing’ every now and then,” explained Keens.

These engagement metrics matter greatly to Twitter because it will hopefully lead to broadcasters and advertisers using Twitter Amplify which helps distribute video content from boadcasters paired with a pre-roll ad.



“What we say is, Twitter is a business that doesn’t own or buy content. We function by encouraging broadcast partners to bring their digital content to twitter. Your content our eyeballs,” said Keens. “We have 281 million monthly active users [worldwide] to amplify that content to. When a sponsor pays to promote that Tweet, we do a 50-50 revenue split with the networks.”

This model contrasts with YouTube’s pre-roll ads, he says, because the brand pays to distribute the broadcasters’ content.

Finally, Twitter makes content from “TV conversation targeting”. “It’s very much about a brand saying, ‘We want to target people talking about The Voice’. We [Twitter] can establish whose talking about the voice on our platform and we can serve them ads.”

Currently Twitter is working even harder at deepening its relationship with TV content, seeking to work directly with producers to ‘bake Twitter’ into the programme itself. “If we can’t get on-air integrations, we have on-Twitter integrations with the cast of the show live-Tweeting when it goes on air. This works great because people engage far more with the actors of the show than the show’s official account.”

The social platform has also worked out a way for viewers to change the channel using Twitter. Currently only available in the US and in partnership with ComCast and NBCUniversal, the special Tweets give users the option of instructing their set-top box(which has presumably been synced with the user’s Twitter account) to change the channel to the show in the promoted Tweet or even record the programme.

So far though, Twitter’s TV ratings offering penetration in Asia has been low and slow. It has only launched it in Australia and Japan although it announced plans with Kantar earlier this year to bring the ratings to Southeast Asia.

“Asia-Pacific is so important for our TV strategy,” insisted Keens, who nevertheless could not reveal where the ratings would next be launched.

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