Oct 6, 2013
By Reed Albergotti
- Bloomberg News
Facebook Monday will disclose plans to provide data about its users’ comments related to major television programs to 10 networks in eight countries, including France, the U.K., Germany, Brazil and India.
Stations like TF1 in France, Channel 4 in the U.K., ARD in Germany, Esporte Interativo in Brazil and STAR networks in India, plan to use the data to show advertisers that their programming is generating online buzz and conversation, potentially boosting the price of advertising.
Facebook recently began offering data to U.S. television networks and other media partners about users’ posts related to their programming. Monday’s announcement extends the initiative overseas, where Facebook believes it has an advantage over its competitors because of its international reach.
Facebook says 957 million, or 83% of its users, are outside the U.S. and Canada. That’s more than five times the 169 million Twitter users outside the U.S.
Facebook’s international move comes as media researcher Nielsen publishes for the first time details about Twitter activity regarding TV shows in the U.S. In August, Twitter announced a partnership with ad research and consulting firm Kantar Media to support planning and analytics for the U.K. television industry, a Twitter spokeswoman said.
Facebook already allows television broadcasters to use real-time public posts of users and broadcast them during live television events.
The new partnerships in the U.S. and overseas allow television stations to mine personal conversations between Facebook users – albeit in anonymous form – and get detailed information on how their audience is reacting to programming.
In prepared remarks provided to The Wall Street Journal ahead of a Monday speech in France, Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships for Facebook, said the data are valuable because they reflect the reactions of real people. Conversations about popular TV shows, he said, “are happening between friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors.”
Rose, in his prepared remarks, pointed to television events, like the finale of the show Breaking Bad, the birth of Prince George, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Wimbledon, that generated a lot of comments on Facebook.
When singer Miley Cyrus demonstrated the sexually suggestive dance move known as “twerking” during the MTV Video Music Awards in August, Rose said nine million people, representing 90% of viewers, generated 26 million interactions on Facebook. Last spring’s NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs generated 125 million interactions, he said
The new data program is still in its infancy, and it’s unclear exactly how television networks will use the information.
Scott Symonds, managing director of media for online marketing firm AKQA, said television stations could use the data to show advertisers that TV shows are “creating ripples that last longer” than the initial programming.
Facebook’s data could also help television stations break down audiences beyond simple age and gender demographics, he said. “It has your personal information,” he says.
Soon, the conversations happening on social media could help shape television content itself.
Rose, in his prepared remarks, pointed to a 2010 campaign started on Facebook promoting actress Betty White as a host for Saturday Night Live.
Initially, the idea “seemed crazy to just about everyone,” Rose said. But the campaign gained 500,000 “likes” on Facebook over two months. White hosted the show, which wound up as the highest-rated episode in two years, he said.
This post has been corrected. An earlier version said incorrectly that Facebook will provide networks with data related to user actions, including “likes” and “shares” about programming. Facebook will only provide data related to user comments and posts.