Twitter Is The New YouTube

I just returned from the ANA Media Leadership Conference in Miami, where I spoke about Madison Avenue’s convergence with Mountain View – in other words, the bridge between startups and brands.

Throughout the conference, I saw several presenters showcasing their television creative – and in particular their Super Bowl spots. And right afterwards, they showed screenshots of Twitter “reactions,” in the form of @comments, retweets and celebrity endorsements.

I immediately thought back to a time not so long ago (to be precise, pre-mainstreaming of Twitter) where brand marketers or their agencies would showcase their television buys with a reference to the number of YouTube views. In fact, as recently as the last few years, the “best practice” in town was to pre-seed the commercials via YouTube in order to sensitize the commercial-loving, brand-enthusiast audience to the big show.

I couldn’t help but make the same observation and connection with the Twitter references as I did with the augmented YouTube wave. Here it is: There’s something wrong with the model if you have to use an ancillary platform to augment and justify a mass medium.



Put simply, it would appear that Twitter has become a crutch to justify and showcase a television buy.

In fact, the presentation playbook goes something like this:

Step 1: Show the creative

Step 2: Show several Twitter verbatims and possibly some cockamamie graph to reflect a spike or aggregation of “earned media”

Step 3: If asked whether the spot actually sold any product or registered significant brand lift, make the confidentiality excuse (…we can’t share) and supplement with a healthy dose of unsupported hyperbole like “put it this way, we’re all happy and will be back.”

Of course you will.

Who wouldn’t, when your entire accountability spectrum is fulfilled with a few tweet-shots?

Whether your crutch of choice is YouTube views, search queries, Twitter RTs, Facebook likes or Instagram followers, I’d recommend a basic leveling of the playing fields,  beginning with the basic concession that when you put a piece of creative in front of an audience of 100+ million people, some of them are bound to react, regardless of how crappy the brand, message or creative is.

What I’d like to see is something closer to Newton’s Third Law: namely, that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, instead of a screenshot of a celebrity tweet.

What I’d like to see is 100+ million tweets (I’ll settle for a click-through equivalent of 0.1% at 100,000).

What I’d like to see if the activation platform results and high value actions as a direct outcome of the exposure. I’ll settle for some benchmark or translation that answers the question, “Is that good?”  -- which is what a company called Unmetric does. (Full disclosure: I’m an advisor to that company.)

If you want to advertise on the Super Bowl, be my guest, but please – pretty please – justify it with traditional media metrics, standards and practices, as opposed to smearing lipstick on a pig via the social channels.

4 comments about "Twitter Is The New YouTube ".
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  1. Jim Lillig from Synergy Intermedia, February 28, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.

    Bravo. Finally someone said it. Measuring popularity id NOT measuring ROI.

  2. Ray Trosan from The Variable, February 28, 2013 at 10:10 p.m.

    Funny you should mention Newon's third law. The Variable is using Newtonian Physics to measure advertiser success you can see the results at

  3. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, March 1, 2013 at 5:02 a.m.

    Good article! As a "big data" person, I'd just like to say is that one reason for using Twitter feedback to justify campaigns in other media is *not* that tweets have any value in themselves. It's that Tweets are an outcome that you can measure and any numbers are better than none. I assume anyone doing this will have done some kind of rough check that Tweet outcomes do correlate with the outcomes they actually want.

  4. Neal Bell from White Rock Media, LLC, March 4, 2013 at 9:35 a.m.

    I echo Pete Austin's comments. Measuring social media response to mass media campaigns is one of many dimensions worth measuring. Also, measuring social media response and measuring economic results are not mutually exclusive activities. Why not do both?

    I agree that such measurements are not (or should not) be the most important metrics, but they are easily measured. So why not keep on an eye on them?

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