Yesterday, the Business Insider broke the news that my former Kendall Square neighbor, Bluefin Labs, will be “Twitter’s largest acquisition to date”.
Besides being a payday for some awesome social media geeks, this clarifies the social network’s likely future positioning and business model. In short, the purchase adds legs to Twitter’s increasingly credible claim that it connects “second screen” viewers for ad hoc conversations during events. It lines them up for a portion advertising revenue currently devoted to television.
As the news broke a day after the Super Bowl, my focus was already on Twitter thanks to Marketingland’s provocative observation that 50% of the games ads included Twitter hashtags, while only 8% mentioned Facebook, and none mentioned Google+. Exploring this is a topic for a future post.
My friend, Ron Miller, wisely noted that the use of hashtags in ads only proves they are popular among marketers and advertisers. And Ron’s caution is backed up be research from ExactTarget summed up in its “Marketers Are From Mars” series. Though marketers are different from customers, Twitter and the second screen has become a big deal.
The impact of twitter and “second screen” viewing during the Super Bowl went well beyond copywriters’ use of hashtags. Here are three proof points:
- Unprecedented second screen viewing overwhelmed fourteen advertisers’ sites.
- Customers of Jeep and Dodge responded realtime to ads that resonated with their values, Oreo cracked a famous joke in the dark.
- And 3 million viewed the Super Bowl feed online as their first screen (up 43% from last year). That’s 3% of total viewership of what Nielsen says was the third most watched program ever.
So, Twitter’s acquisition of my Cambridge, MA neighbor was announced at the perfect time.
If the awareness of second screen viewing is at a high, so its is market potential. After all, the revenue model for the first screen is predominantly ad- based. Twitter is-lined up for an ad-driven model on the second screen. And its in a great position to evaluate the impact of the first screen. As Ad Age asked a few months ago: If Twitter has become the new TV Guide, can it also offer ratings?
In the age of the second screen, Twitter has a chance to be both the carrier of the conversation about events, and the ratings agency that evaluates the first screen’s impact. That makes them competitive with Facebook, Neilsen ratings, and it makes them attractive to anyone who wants to message second screen viewers based on their momentary interest.
Klout score may rank your use of Twitter, but thanks to this purchase, Twitter will be able to rate the impact of broadcast media and global events among its users. Think of Twitter as the world’s biggest focus group.
Twitter’s business model may have seemed quixotic in its early days. But now the gang that brought us the FailWhale, seems to be lining up to be the king of connecting second screen viewers. And there’s a clear business model in that.