Social TV News: Internet Ad Revenue Surpasses TV: Viacom to Offer Social Media Guarantees: Twitter’s TV Impact Under Fire

A new industry survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that internet ad revenues have overtaken TV for the first time ever in 2013. Although the study marks a truly historic occasion, president and CEO of the IAB, Randall Rothenberg, asserts, “The news that interactive has outperformed broadcast television should come as no surprise. It speaks to the power that digital screens have in reaching and engaging audiences.”

It should be equally unsurprising then, that mobile is playing a huge role in the revenue story. The report details the fact that revenue from mobile has grown more than any other ad format, to 19% in 4Q13 from 11% in 4Q12. Rothenburrg continues, “the triple-digit growth of mobile is clearly a direct response to how smaller digital screens play an integral role in consumers’ lives throughout the day, as well as their critical importance to cross-screen experiences.”

Tellingly, there is no mention of social media within the entire 28-page report. The ROI on social has been, and continues to be, notoriously hard to pin down, but there are signs of change on this front as well.

Through a new measurement platform known as Echograph, Viacom and Mass Relevance are teaming up to “guarantee certain levels of social reach and targeting for client campaigns”. In a press release that was light on specifics, Jeff Lucas, Head of Sales, Music and Entertainment at Viacom Media Networks claims, “We’ve cracked the code on how to connect advertisers to the enormous social activity around our networks but, until now, the missing piece was comprehensive measurement”.

Measurement is that first step towards monetization.

And not just for the TV networks. Measurement has  played a critical role for Twitter in developing its own monetization strategy. Speaking at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Mike Park, senior manager of Twitter Amplify, referenced Twitter’s 241 million active users (66% of whom purportedly tweet while watching TV) as a huge potential for advertisers.

Across the pond, UK MD of Twitter, Bruce Daisley, mulled over new research from Twitter and Thinkbox, “The increasing evidence we’re seeing is that there is a symbiotic effect. So when tweets go up, viewing [of the related TV show] goes up… and when the viewing of a show goes up we see evidence of tweets going up as well.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Twitter’s chief media scientist, Deb Roy, was touting the party line at the MIPTV television industry conference in Cannes. “No matter how you slice it, the complementary activity of having Twitter active with television seems to be leading to positive outcomes from the advertiser point of view” said Roy.

A recent study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation in partnership with Twitter and Fox was filled with stats in support of such statements, among them: “90 percent of Twitter users who see a TV show-related tweet are likely to immediately watch the show, search for more information, or share tweet-based content about that show” and “54 percent of Twitter users who recall seeing brand-related tweets during a TV show have taken action (tweeting about, searching for or considering the brand)”.

But another new study, sponsored by the Council for Research Excellence and conducted by Nielsen with help from the Keller Fay Group, seemed to cast some doubts about Twitter’s ambitious assertions. The study found that TV promos are still the number one driver behind viewers’ decisions to watch new shows, accounting for 40% of decisions to view newly premiering shows, vs. 7% for social media. This news prompted Mashable to run an article under the headline “The Social TV Revolution Isn’t Here Yet” while The New York Times wrote: “The research findings contradict the notion — peddled heavily by Twitter and Facebook in their pitches to producers — that conversations on Twitter and Facebook are a big factor driving people to tune into TV shows”. From there it was easy for the rest of the naysayers to pile on.

In reality, the CRE study is just one more in a growing pile of studies (including a very recent one from Deloitte) and its findings on simultaneous TV and social media usage are hardly a radical departure from the findings in the past. The more important story is the mounting evidence that Facebook, not Twitter, is the biggest player in the Social TV space.

The CRE study revealed that 11.4 percent of people use Facebook while watching TV, versus just 3.3 percent of people use Twitter. Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, this fact was not highlighted in the Key Findings of the report (both Twitter and Facebook are members of the CRE). Although Facebook has been eager for a piece of the Social TV pie, Twitter is doing everything in its power to shut the rival social network out (Twitter bought Trendrr and SecondSync shortly after these social TV analytics companies announced partnerships with Facebook).

As Twitter dukes it out with Facebook over Social TV dollars, they may also have to start worrying about Google. That advertising dollars are increasingly shifting from TV to Internet, is certainly not lost on the search giant. In a new study,  The Role of Digital in TV Research, Fanship and Viewing, Google claims 90 percent of TV viewers visit YouTube and Google Search and two-thirds of viewers of new television shows search online before tuning in. The insights released by the company make a strong case for why Search and YouTube should be a prerequisite part of TV spending.

Keep reading for more social TV stories from around the web.
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