@Twitter and TV: A Natural Partnership?

Twitter announced last month that they have come to an agreement with Nielsen to create a "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" -- a tool that will measure the total audience for social TV activity on Twitter, including both people who comment and people who are exposed to their comments. This announcement is worthy of much more than 140 characters. 

Twitter and social media have been changing the way we go about our everyday life since their introduction. This is just another step along the disruptive technology's path. Steve Hasker, President, Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, said in a release, "Twitter has become the world's digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time."

Twitter is undoubtedly the digital water cooler. This new rating will judge how many people are visiting that cooler. However, it begs the question, what is good television? Does good TV keep you so enthralled that you are not distracted by another device or does good TV immediately prompt you to go to your second device and let the world (or at least your followers) know exactly what your opinion is? The answer varies depending on who you ask. 

The term "second screen" has caught the attention of the interactive marketing industry. The term refers to an additional electronic device that allows a television audience to interact with the content they are consuming. And again, the opinions are varied. In Mashable's 11 Big Tech Trends You'll See in 2013, the first prediction was entitled "Second-Screen Revolution." Their evidence? More than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV, at least 25% of U.S. smartphone and tablet users use the devices while watching TV multiple times per day, 51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing, and 24% of Facebook users report posting about the movie they're watching (in the theater!).

While some industry experts have dubbed the second screen as the Holy Grail, others are not so sure. A cognitive psychologist at Michigan State University conducted a study that concluded "those who used multiple media devices the most were almost twice as likely to report depressive symptoms as those who used a second screen the least." The psychologist, Mark Becker, claimed, "kids these days are really making themselves depressed and anxious with this constant plugged-in status." 

While some may dispute that a second screen enhances an experience, the evidence proves that the second screen is at least being utilized by consumers. In 2013, it will be interesting to see how advertisers and marketers take advantage of the second screen. Nielsen and Twitter are combining to make this an easier -- or at least more measurable -- tactic. 

The real winner may be sports and live-broadcast events. Big games have served as a Twitter conversation catalyst for quite some time now. Twitter allows those covering the game, at the game, and watching the game on TV to gather and interact in one place. The trend is growing. Just this week, we saw Vizio activate at the Rose Bowl with a social competition. It will be interesting to see how other sponsors continue to activate around live events. The Nielsen Twitter TV rating will make it easier for advertisers and sponsors to measure ROI of a campaign.

The foundation has been laid for yet another disruptive technology in the social media marketing industry. Interested in what else the future may hold? Download ExactTarget's Inspired Marketing Predictions for 2013.

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