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December 17, 2012
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Twitter is the biggest sofa in the world

During peak time TV hours, 40% of Tweets are about television shows, Dan Biddle, Head of TV Partnerships at Twitter, revealed at the Future TV Advertising Forum recently, as he made the case that broadcasters and advertisers should make full use of the network to build interest around their shows or brands.

He described Twitter as the world’s biggest sofa. “You can lean over and talk to your friend or you can talk to Simon Cowell about the X Factor,” he declared. “A hashtag is like a campfire; it is a way to say, ‘This is where we are and this is where the conversation is’.

Biddle says Twitter is not a social network but more of an information, interest and communication network. “This the shortest space between you and what interests you the most,” he declared.

The growth of Twitter has been phenomenal. When Michael Jackson died in 2009 there were 456 Tweets per second but during the Euro 2012 football final the figure was 15,358. In the UK, 80% of Twitter users Tweet through a mobile device and that means it could play an important role in getting people to interact either with programming or advertising through the second screen.

Biddle outlined the potential for Twitter to enhance TV advertising, pointing to the Audi ‘#SoLongVampires’ campaign, which highlighted the power of the car headlights and how they create near-daylight by scaring away vampires with them. Like other ads using a Twitter hashtag, this used a call to action that led to a great response.

“With this approach you can be confident that people are talking about you at this exact moment in time. You can see the real impact of the ad right now through the use of the hashtag because it is unique to you,” Biddle told delegates at the London conference.

He said shows can make more use of Twitter hashtags by building them into the editorial. The Big Brother America ‘Punish or Reward’ voting for evicted housemates was a good example because the producers made use of the poll results in the show.

The Mercedes ‘#YouDrive’ TV advertising campaign invited viewers to Tweet to determine whether a runaway couple in a car should evade or hide from their pursuers. The first ad, giving you a voting choice, appeared in the first ad break of X Factor. Based on the poll result, a new creative appeared in a later ad break that showed them evading the people chasing them.

Biddle noted that the public need little education about how to use Twitter and claimed a wide demographic cross-section of users.  He highlighted how Tweets can impact what people choose to watch, especially if there is a dramatic moment in a show that everyone is talking about. “Twitter is the second screen app that people go to talk about shows in public,” he said.

With the second screen market still nascent and many apps providers looking to embrace social TV, Twitter is often used inside other apps to give people access to programme-based conversations. There is a view that Twitter and indeed Facebook could both carve out an even bigger role for themselves in the second screen, social TV arena.