TV execs have long been wracking their brains, trying to crack the mystery of how television and social media ought to gel. Well, here's a tip: They may want to put down that Nielsen data and pick up the new Twitter report instead.
The microblogging service has now released The Twitter TV Book, a 20-page study outlining TV-viewing trends and Twitter use in the UK. The data, intended for advertising partners, outlines how everyday viewers use the service along with other media, and how television and advertising will propel the service in the future.
We're not talking small beans either. There are 10+ million active Twitter users in the UK, and 60 percent of them use the service while watching TV. And during peak time, 40 percent of Twitter traffic is about television. It's like the modern-day equivalent of gathering buds together to watch select programming. But instead of everyone piling onto the sofa, people are taking to their keyboards to crank out their impressions in 140 characters or less.
The fact that real-time data like this is even possible shows us that the traditional TV viewership polls and specialized boxes are way outdated. (Sorry, Nielsen.) There's a good deal of minutiae in this report, some of it pretty eye-opening:
- Teens tend to hit up their desktops, while the thirty-something set usually tweets from a mobile device.
- Tweets cluster at the beginning and end of dramas, such as "Homeland."
- News programs can fuel Twitter conversations for hours afterward.
- Twitter can be a spoiler source for reality shows: Traffic surged whenever singer James Arthur hit Britain's "X Factor" stage, which was a solid indicator that he'd go on and win the whole thing.
- The "Downton Abbey" tweeples defied logic: They didn't take to the 'nets during breaks, as activity actually dropped during commercials. Then again, it may be due to channel surfing. "Dynamo: Mission Impossible" viewers hit the Twitterverse en force during commercials, suggesting they were sticking with the program.
These findings are UK-based, but it's quite likely Twitter will release similar reports for other markets. The company wants to leverage this data to tailor advertising to particular user tastes and behaviors — which means we could see more advertising based on our individual TV-tweeting habits.
Whether that's good news or bad news depends on your point of view, but there's an indisputable upside to this: At least network and studio execs could get real-time data that (hopefully) ensures they bring viewers more of the programming we want most.