While the rise of second-screen viewing has created new advertising opportunities for marketers, it has also raised concerns about the impact on viewing of traditional TV commercials. If people are busy tweeting, posting to Facebook or otherwise chattering online during commercial breaks, they are ignoring all those expensive 30-second spots.
But new data from Nielsen today suggests that at least when it comes to Twitter, people aren’t waiting for commercial breaks to join in the social conversation. Based on a study of 59 U.S. TV episodes across broadcast and cable, the media tracking firm found that 70% of tweets were sent during program time, and 30% during commercial breaks.
Overall, the share of tweets roughly equated with the share of commercial time within a program’s airtime, regardless of genre. With sports, for example, ads ran during 24% of airtime, and a quarter of tweets were sent during commercial time. For comedy shows, likewise, 35% of tweets were posted during the 35% chunk of airtime given over to ads.
The takeaway is that viewers using Twitter as a second-screen platform are tweeting consistently throughout the airtime for programming and ads alike. TV advertisers might still prefer that viewers' attention was fixed on the larger screen during breaks, but it’s not as if they signal the start of a tweeting blitz. All airtime is tweet time.
Twitter has moved aggressively to court TV advertisers and position its service as a force for amplifying rather than marginalizing their messages. In July, the company expanded its initiative for allowing advertisers to direct promotions to viewers who tweet about programs they are watching on TV.
Twitter has said that users who watch coordinated ads on TV and Twitter were 58% more likely to purchase products and services and 27% more likely to mention brands, including Holiday Inn and Jaguar, on its site. Through its research and analytics partnership with Nielsen, Twitter also released findings over the summer suggesting that Twitter buzz can boost TV ratings as well as the converse -- that increases in TV ratings drive more tweets.