Twitter's Second-Screen Moves Will Help Brands Avoid Being Second-Screen Gate-Crashers

We all do it -- well, at least a quarter of us do it, or half of us is you're between ages 16 and 24, according to a report from Deloitte last summer. Second-screening while watching television is a new behaviour that advertisers and brands are keen to tap into, and so it comes as little surprise that the platform which hosts social TV discussions has bought London's SecondSync to understand the market better. 

There's another reason, though, why the Twitter acquisition makes so much sense -- and it's not the "in your face" message it sends to Facebook. The two had been working closely on sharing data but, one can presume, that relationship may well cool. The really interesting part for marketers, advertisers and brands lies in the figure not often quoted from Deloitte's research that more than two in three who are engaged in social TV chat do not want to immerse themselves more deeply in the show or its stars. They are simply chatting and commenting about the show to their social contacts. 

The end of interruption is a much used phrase and for good reason. People now have the ability to pause and fast forward shows to avoid adverts, and so brands are desperate to be a part of the entertainment so they're not an unwelcome knock on the door but more of a pal on the sofa. 

That is where the data deal extension with Kantar and the purchase of SecondSync make so much sense. The temptation to guard against, however, is that a lot of people are doing something -- in this case "second-screening," and that must provide an opportunity. Although it does, it could be a double-edged sword where advertisers could annoy just as easily as entertain or inform. Backed by an understanding of how people engage with one another and what sort of promoted messages go down well, Twitter will be able to build data models that will help brands tap into those who are more likely to want to receive an apt marketing message and those who will not. 

At its simplest level, someone wondering where a dress worn by a star on a show came from might well react favourably to a store revealing it's one of theirs and here's a link to a page you can buy it from. Similarly, someone talking about the amazing location a romantic comedy is set in would probably react well if a promoted post offered a cut-price B&B deal at the venue. Other conversations focussing on the show's plot or characters are probably less likely to warrant a marketing message.

Well, that's the theory off the top of my head. But that's the point. At the moment nobody knows -- and considering that modern digital marketing is all about data, you can't go to market without a demonstrable understanding of a channel. So, today's news shows a very shrewd acquisition which is backed up by an equally sensible deepening of Twitter's data collection and interpretation deal with Kantar. 

Without a doubt, this is going to open up the Social TV market with, one hopes, a surgeon's knife rather than the crash of a war hammer.

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