Understanding Ads on Twitter: Part 4

From opening an office in Canada to making a play for TV-adjacent ad dollars, 2013 has already been a big year for Twitter, and it’s about to get bigger. The company began trading Thursday at $26 a share, valuing the company at more than $18 billion. To sustain that value, Twitter needs to sell its […]

From opening an office in Canada to making a play for TV-adjacent ad dollars, 2013 has already been a big year for Twitter, and it’s about to get bigger. The company began trading Thursday at $26 a share, valuing the company at more than $18 billion.

To sustain that value, Twitter needs to sell its suite of ad products – currently its main driver of revenue  – and expand as it has with its venture into the TV ad market this year. So as the English web’s favourite microblogging service prepares to go public, Marketing is taking a look at Twitter’s ad offering and how it has been used by Canadian marketers.

Earlier this week we explored Twitter Canada’s three main ad units: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. Today we’re looking at Twitter’s relationship with TV advertising. Watch MarketingMag.ca tomorrow for a look at Twitter’s approach to targeting.


When murmurs of an initial public offering for Twitter began this spring, the social network had already begun its foray into the TV ad market.

Back in March Twitter’s chief revenue officer, Adam Bain, was on the conference circuit, speaking at Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah and South By South West Interactive in Austin, Texas about how marketers can benefit from pairing together TV and social data.

Kirstine Stewart

In the past twelve months Twitter has acquired a social TV analytics firm, launched weekly social TV ratings in partnership with Nielsen, debuted a new ad unit that ties Twitter ads to TV ads and selected former CBC brass Kirstine Stewart as the head of Twitter Canada.

When she was appointed to lead Twitter Canada at the end of April, Stewart said Twitter was in the “preschool stage” of its TV plans.

Since then it has made significant moves to solidify Twitter ads as a complement to TV ads, most directly through its Twitter Amplify ad unit, which allows advertisers to share bonus content, such as sports replays or interviews with TV actors, on Twitter at the same time as a TV broadcast.

Bloomberg TV, the Discovery Channel, Conde Nast, the WWE and Clear Channel have already signed up as partners for the program. In Canada, Shaw and Twitter Canada announced a co-selling deal that will see the two companies produce this kind of social TV tie-in at Shaw’s TV upfront for the fall 2013 TV season.

Since then Shaw has been working to prepare additional original content that brands can be integrated into for some of its “most social” shows, including Big Brother Canada and Chopped Canada, according to Errol Da-Ré, senior vice-president, sales, Shaw Media.

“Twitter Amplify will make it possible to embed small in-tweet video clips that highlight a particularly exciting moment in any given program,” Da-Ré said. “This provides opportunities for both traditional, in-context pre-roll advertising, as well as more innovative ways for Shaw Media to work with brands to create original and appealing content.”

Because production on Shaw’s fall TV content was already complete at the time the deal was brokered in May, Stewart said Shaw and Twitter Canada are still “a couple of months away” from going to market with Twitter Amplify in Canada.

“When you do something like Twitter Amplify, you have to get in on a program as it’s being developed,” she said. “It takes time from announcement to development and release. It’s not dissimilar to product placement in that you need to conceive of it while you’re in production mode.”

Stewart said Twitter Canada is already in talks with additional Canadian broadcasters to start similar co-selling partnerships, though she declined to provide specifics. On Thursday, she announced at a Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment event in Toronto that MLSE will partner with Twitter Canada on Amplify ads.

Given her experience as executive vice-president of English Services at CBC/Radio-Canada, Stewart has also been tapped by Twitter’s executive team to help inform its overall TV strategy in all markets.

“They hired me specifically for my television background,” Stewart said, noting she recently met with Bain and other executives to discuss the strategy put forward by its senior media team, including Twitter’s head of media Chloe Sladden and head of TV Fred Graver.

Before Twitter Amplify was even given a name, AT&T partnered with the company in the U.S. to deliver bonus clips from March Madness college basketball games in the U.S. in March.

Gian LaVecchia, managing partner and digital lead at AT&T’s New York-based media agency, MEC, said the ad unit allowed AT&T to realize its vision of connecting its brand to consumers with live, in-the-moment content.

“The client was thrilled,” he said. “They’re perceived as a first mover, which is always a win for a progressive brand. And more importantly, they saw tremendous levels of engagement.”

Though he declined to provide results for the campaign, LaVecchia is bullish on the benefits of tying social media marketing and TV together. “The TV-plus-Twitter message has been gaining traction internally [at Twitter] and in the marketplace,” he said. “It’s unequivocally one of their most powerful propositions to the investor marketplace.”

As more brands go to market with Twitter Amplify, LaVecchia said the ad unit is likely to gain more traction and attract even more attention from advertisers, reinforcing the power of not only Twitter, but also traditional TV ads.

“For years everyone was predicting the death of TV,” he said. “The reality is that Twitter kind of put that statement and argument to rest. TV now has the ability to be the modern marketing platform that just a couple of years ago it wasn’t.”

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