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Ahead of its much-anticipated IPO, Twitter is looking to monetise an aspect of its services it hasn’t quite cracked up to date: hashtags as a means to drive real-time online conversations, particularly during television shows.
Hashtags are already used by television networks during shows to entice people to join in on the buzz around what is being shown right there and then. One such example would be on a reality television show like Survivor where #rewardchallenge is followed by #immunitychallenge and #tribalcouncil in real-time respectively. It’s a marketing tool, but, as the Wall Street Journal reports, TV networks have not always paid for the service.
If Twitter is able to leverage such an offering, it will go a long way to proving to potential investors that it has a working business model on the go.
The Wall Street Journal confirms that over the past few months, Twitter has been “courting” networks and advertisers with more “sophisticated marketing products.”
One such product is called Amplify — which allows networks to post a short clip online of something that has just aired on one of its channels, acting as an almost real-time replay. The kicker is that it will be sponsored splitting revenue between Twitter and the network.
Twitter’s current ad revenue is mainly generated from ‘promoted tweets’ and ‘promoted trends.’ The potential impact of something like Amplify has seen research firm eMarketer Inc. estimate that the company’s 2014 ad revenue will be up to around the US$1-billion mark from this year’s US$583-million.
Initial network partners include BBC America, ESPN and A&E Networks.
Interestingly, there has been some hesitance from networks such as CBS with executive VP and GM of entertainment, news and sports at CBS Interactive, Mark DeBevoise, stating that “we see a connection between increased Twitter activity and increased ratings. The problem is, we can’t tell which is doing which.”
Twitter can find solace in the fact that media ratings company Nielsen is compiling monthly reports on how Tweets effect a show’s ratings. The August report showed that the number of tweets greatly enhanced the viewership in 29% of the episodes surveyed.
Whether Twitter, and a service like Amplify, can out-shadow Facebook is yet to be determined too. Facebook is also currently targeting media partners, purportedly giving them free access to public feeds on topics and providing analytics on the participants involved in those feeds.