Since the introduction of the television, movies, shows and advertisements have depicted happy families and groups of friends huddled around a TV set, sharing thoughts and emotions. In the modern era, this same stereotype could be modified to feature teens on their cell phones, texting and tweeting their peers about the happenings in nighttime dramas or witty advertisements. This new habit of sharing feelings and reactions in the moment is becoming a social networking ritual among children and adults alike. Accordingly, TV networks, advertisers and Twitter have realized the earning potential.
For the past year, TV shows and advertisements have been including hashtags, words preceded by the pound sign that link together phrases used on Twitter, in their programs and ads to encourage discussion among viewers. These words and phrases allow users to tweet their thoughts on in ways that others can read, follow and interact with. This sort of distinct feature drives interaction based on themes and content rather than followers or friends, something almost exclusively unique in the social networking world. To the delight of advertisers and television producers, this sort of connective sharing has allowed companies to monitor viewer reactions and feedback in an honest, unfiltered way.
As of May 2013, Twitter has agreed to allow advertisers to target Twitter users based on the ads they watch and the hashtags they use. This concept has been used before on a smaller scale; in 2012, Twitter partnered with ESPN and Ford to promote football replays and other content to Twitter users who used sports-related hashtags and followed major sports Twitter feeds. Under the new agreement, Twitter will work with advertisers who choose to utilize the service. Additionally, Twitter has announced partnerships with media titans like Condé Nast and Bloomberg in a program called Twitter Amplify in order to promote target ads to users who choose to view certain content, much like the short ads that play before video clips on YouTube.
Although media companies and other advertisers are excited about the possibility of reaching new markets in previously untapped ways, the concept of targeted advertising through Twitter has potential downsides. As advertisers have learned, many consumers are unhappy with the level of advertising on social networking sites and the Google ads that target commonly used words and search history. If Twitter pushes this new advertising agenda too hard, users may stop following previous content and start focusing interests elsewhere in order to avoid a potential over-saturation of advertisements.
The world of marketing and social networking is fluid, constantly shifting and changing as trends ebb and flow. The interactions between television, advertising and Twitter are still young and developing. In past years, advertisers have been sprinting to keep up with the changing times and constantly shifting face of the Internet. Twitter’s partnerships with advertisers have both the potential to change the face of modern advertising and to ruin the way individuals use the features of the still-young social network. Although the future of this targeted marketing is uncertain, it is largely understood that things can only move forward, not back.