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TV saves Twitter yet again

"TV saves Twitter yet again": only joking (again).

As Thinkbox has said roughly a million times, there’s no saving to be done – on either side. It is one happy, mutually beneficial relationship. Social TV at its finest.

But it is interesting, don’t you think, that Twitter has just made and broadcast its first ever TV ad? Clearly it feels broadcast TV advertising has something to offer it that it isn’t getting elsewhere. Not a case of saving, but certainly a case of adding something.

Some have suggested that advertising on TV means Twitter is trying to become a mainstream brand. Maybe, but mainstream is a very relative term. In the media industry, Twitter is undoubtedly mainstream. The fact that last week’s #twitter4brands event was trending worldwide suggests how its audience of media types are hardcore tweeters. But, on the whole, Twitter is very far from being mainstream in the strict mainstream sense. UKOM figures show that in May, Twitter reached 13.3% of the UK population. If you apply the old 70% reach in a week rule that commercial radio used to benchmark mainstream, it has some way to go.

TV advertising will help, I’m sure. But Twitter already benefits from TV promotion in many ways editorially. Many TV shows have a hashtag which is overtly plugged and encouraged during the show, even on the BBC. Then there is the amount of news that is reported based on what this or that celebrity said on Twitter, or the latest ‘Twitterstorm’ about an issue, or Twitter’s role in political self-expression, or just feedback from viewers. Similar reporting – and, on occasion, breathlessness – of what is said on Twitter happens on radio and in the press too. Twitter is given acres of free editorial exposure worth millions which most brands would kill for and which is wildly out of proportion with the number of people actually using it – probably because no one loves Twitter more than journalists.

So it seems Twitter believes that its vast, ‘earned’ editorial exposure doesn’t quite deliver in the way that paid-for commercial advertising -  with its own controlled message talking about new product features – can do and so has invested in TV. There’s something celebratory and confident about Twitter making a TV ad. It is very positive body language. It is almost as if to say it has certainly arrived, even if it isn’t yet mainstream in terms of use. The experience of other TV advertisers shows that it very likely soon will be.


  • Lindsey Clay
    Lindsey Clay
    CEO, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
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