If Facebook Proves Its Chatter Leads To Ratings, Twitter's TV Business Could Be In Huge Trouble

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Facebook's Justin Ososfky

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Facebook VP of media partnerships Justin Osofsky

For months, Twitter has been building out its advertising products to leverage the perception that the social network is the go-to place for television fans to discuss what they're watching in real time.

This spring, it introduced a product that lets brands pair a TV ad with a promoted tweet targeted at the audience that's watching the show, and another product that allows brands to push video content with pre-roll ads to users. This strategy was re-enforced by a study this summer that found a relationship between a spike in Twitter chatter and increased TV ratings.

This would all be great news for Twitter if there weren't already another social media network that could boast five times as much TV chatter as not only Twitter, but every other social network combined.

I speak, of course, of Facebook, which announced at the end of September that it would partner with the major broadcast networks to determine the extent to which Facebook conversations about television shows can boost ratings. While Twitter has the advantage of being a public forum, many, many more people are talking about television in closed-door conversations with their friends on Facebook.

Speaking at Business Insider's Ignition conference in New York City, Facebook vice president of media partnerships Justin Osofsky highlighted the data deal with networks, as well as the site's introduction of verified accounts and hashtags, as evidence that the network is cautiously building up its own television products to match the enormous amount of conversation happening on Facebook.

In his mind, Facebook needs to show its advertisers that social conversation on its site can drive its users to content, not only in real time, but to other TV-related content on mobile and desktop.

"In talking with partner, they want the content to be consumed by an audience, and that’s what we’re driving at scale,” Osofsky said. "We're in the early stages of measurement, but I think we will prove that the conversation does drive real-time tune-in."

Osofsky also said Facebook can improve its partnerships by working with brands to extend the viewing experience with additional content based around the second-screen conversation. For instance, he said, consumption of programming like reality television can continue on social media well after a given episode has aired.

"When 9 million people are talking about the Video Music Awards on Facebook and 10 million people are watching, you have a mainstream activity," Osofsky said. "You have an audience on Facebook. The question is how you can make the experience better for advertisers."

Once Facebook finds the answer to that question, Twitter is going to have to do some serious thinking about what it can give its partners that Facebook can't.



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