The first official UK Twitter TV ratings were released this week. This comes after a series of moves from Twitter this summer to give brands access to greater insight into their Twitter performance across organic and paid activity. Indications are that Twitter is keen to start providing brands with more information to support their advertising decisions and to cement its position as a complement to TV advertising. But what do these changes really mean for brands and how they can measure the effectiveness of their activities on Twitter to make more informed decisions?
So what’s new?
The new Twitter TV Ratings are part of a collaboration between Twitter and Kantar Media and, in addition to existing measures already available such as the total number of tweets about a TV programme, will provide unique reach and impressions for these conversations. The launch builds on moves from Twitter earlier this summer to give brands greater access to Twitter reach and impressions data, and provides an industry measure for the relationship between TV and Twitter audience figures.
As benchmark figures, the ratings are expected to benefit both broadcasters and TV advertisers in defining their social media strategy – particularly those advertisers looking to integrate their social media and TV activities – by indicating which programmes generate the greatest online reach and interaction and therefore how to focus supporting social media activity by ad spot and audience.
The underlying trend towards Twitter gradually providing more access to true reach figures is perhaps the most significant point for brands, as the metric provides a useful benchmark for Twitter performance against that of other digital and non-digital channels.
Until recently, sought after reach and impression measures were only available to advertisers for their paid posts. But for measuring the reach of other posts (their own organic tweets or tweets from their competitors, influencers or wider community), brands have had to rely on tracking potential impressions, which social analytics tools calculate by summing the follower counts of tweeters and retweeters to determine how many times a tweet could have been seen. This metric fails to factor in duplication within follower counts or whether followers are online at the time of posting and has left many marketing professionals sceptical as to its usefulness. Earlier this summer, Twitter began introducing actual impressions data to the market across all advertisers’ posts including organic, a metric every user can now see at analytics.twitter.com.
Although the ratings and associated tool are currently limited to displaying aggregate reach figures by programme (as opposed to broken down by tweet or individual user), as more granular information becomes available brands will be able to understand the performance and reach of competitor activity in more depth and identify influencers, not by follower count as many do currently, but by the true reach of their activity.
What it means for measurement
Deciding how much resource to allocate to Twitter and other social media platforms, whether in place of or integrated with other marketing channels (be they TV, print or other digital media) has, to date, been a difficult decision for brands to make. The lack of any meaningful or consistent measurement has made it difficult for marketers to communicate the value of social media channels to senior stakeholders and has resulted in most businesses adopting a cautious approach, with Twitter and social media marketing more generally receiving less attention and investment in the overall marketing mix than perhaps it should.
The availability of Twitter reach data and more specifically Twitter TV Ratings will enable marketers to more accurately benchmark Twitter against that of other digital and non-digital channels and add insight into the opportunities presented by integrating social media and TV activities, supporting those stakeholder conversations and marketing mix decisions. But to understand the business value of Twitter activity and to maximise ROI, marketers will need to look beyond the benchmarks reach metrics afford. After all, how can we be sure that reaching someone via Twitter will have the same impact and value as reaching someone via another social channel like Facebook or via a more traditional channel, for example a TV ad?
It is only by using additional analytics to link back to the underlying business goal (whether sales or other brand metric) that businesses can make informed decisions as to their optimum marketing spend mix and social media strategy.