Twitter TV Ratings

November 6, 2013

nielsen-twitter-logos-300pxThere are so many “Hot Topic’s” in media at the moment it seems we are spoiled to be living during an age of such rapid change and evolution. Programmatic Buying, 2nd Screening and how Netflix is changing the media landscape are just some of the many topics crossing peoples lips.

I found myself being engrossed in a story I heard almost 3 weeks ago. Rumblings about Nielsen and Twitter partnering up to create what they call Twitter TV Ratings very quickly became a hot topic. The idea of the Twitter TV ratings is not the same as your typical TV rating (how many people watched a TV show). The twitter TV Rating looks at how much activity the particular TV show creates on Twitter. Both these metrics show very different results for different demographics. An obvious assumption to make is that programmes which are popular with a younger demographic will score higher in terms of Twitter TV Ratings as this audience are more engaged with the platform. However the results even with a younger more engaged audience are very programme dependent. Some programmes lend themselves nicely to 2nd screening and twitter conversations while others don’t. Here is the Top 5 US programs from 30/09 until 06/10.

Top 5 US Twitter TV Ratings 30/09 - 6/10/2013

Top 5 US Twitter TV Ratings 30/09 – 6/10/2013

Are there any major surprises? Not so much. American political thriller TV drama, the most talked about artist of the moment, the equivalent of our Late Late Show and The Voice. These shows are typically going to arouse in a traditional sense, conversation about their outcomes. Traditionally people would have sat around together and watched these programmes. Nowadays, the communal friendly aspect to watching TV has been to a certain extent lost. I feel the exciting thing Twitter is doing is restoring an aspect of social conversation to the act of watching your favourite TV programmes. It’s giving viewers a platform to share their opinion and enjoy other peoples in “real time”. Even if none of your close friends are watching the latest episode of House of Cards you can find a community of people online who are.

From a media perspective Advertisers are going to gain a wealth of knowledge about their target audience. People’s interactions with TV programmes are going to filter down audiences into minute targeted groups. The kind of groups traditional media have been lacking in comparison to digital media. It’s obviously going to take some time for the technology and implementation of such measures to reach Ireland. I just know I’m personally excited about the prospect of RTE selling advertising in the newest series of whatever Love/Hate type programming is running with a big Twitter TV Rating sitting alongside.

Donnacha – Account Exec OMD Ireland


An important landmark in the transition from childhood into adulthood is the point when you realize that not everything that is claimed in pop music lyrics is actually true. The same principle as ‘paper never refusing ink’ applies to lyrics.  This thought struck me as I casually browsed through the JNLR survey on Irish radio listenership.  Contrary to what Trevor Horn and his Buggles pal had claimed in 1979 it transpires that video did not actually kill the radio star.  Rather radio is in rude health and it is the music video that has faced turbulent times over the last three decades.  

Once the bedrock of the cash juggernaut that was music television through the 1980’s and 90’s the music video increasingly became marginalised.  After that golden age the previously enormous production budgets began to shrink and videos became a rarity on the very TV channels that were originally built to house them.  Towards the turn of the millennium viewers had become more discerning.  Pop-culture and the next big thing in music was no longer something dictated by DJ’s, or latterly VJ’s, who pushed the message out to hungry ears.  The audiences would no longer sit through hours of dross music (like their parents who listened under the duvets through the static to Radio Luxembourg) in the hope that something they liked might come up.

The internet had arrived and changed everything.  The push from an all powerful hit-maker was now not the only show in town.  The internet gave people the power to find what they liked rather than sit and be told.  Faced with this fragmentation the video retreated, banished from television, unloved and underfunded.

The music video was in the doldrums, holding out for a hero.  When the hero did arrive in the second half of the last decade it was in the form of broadband and its eager sidekick YouTube.  If music television didn’t want the format any more then suddenly the internet did and the music video entered its second golden age.  This time the content was not programmed by hipsters in MTV but by anyone with an internet connection.  The internet brought democracy to the music video letting people watch, satirise and imitate whatever they wanted (and then as if to prove that democracy is flawed Justin Bieber’s song Baby got 731 million views).   

Another thought that struck me as I contemplated the JNLR’s findings was how music radio stations remain relevant and current if they are no longer setting the agenda – it is their audiences who are discovering the new artists online.  The answer came from a station rep who told of how they saw an artist, with an internet built fanbase, that their DJ’s had never heard of selling out Dublin’s O2 arena.  This led to a panicked rejigging of playlists as the artists was shoehorned into heavy rotation.  Cool now comes from the internet and the successful media outlets, and brands, are those who co-opt it quickest.

So, if in 1979 The Buggles had factored in the advent of the internet and its impact on the music video, (aside from being incredibly wealthy right now), they might have changed their song title to “online streamed video will make the radio star”.  



Something happened somewhere along the line that we all missed.  We missed that meeting, we slept through it.  We meant to spend a bit of time getting our heads around it, but somehow it kept slipping off the urgent list.  I remember when there was no Google and I know that it’s everywhere now.  It’s just the in-between bit that I’m sketchy on.

I’m also convinced that there’s nothing we can do about it.  So, really, questioning the rights and wrongs and moralities of it, whilst it might be interesting (or not?) is kind of an irrelevance.  It rains a lot in Ireland.  In some ways I wish it didn’t, it’s pretty annoying.  In other ways I’m glad that it does, the green landscape is really beautiful.  But I’d never sit around debating whether or not it should rain so much here or not.  What’s the point?  There’s no ‘should’ about it – it just does.  Rainfall is up to God, Superman, ComReg, the BAI, ClearCast or whoever it is that regulates our weather.


Back to Google.  They’re on the cusp of being the single biggest ‘media’ vendor in this market and beyond.  As I asked at the beginning, when the hell did that happen?  It doesn’t matter when it happened.  How did it happen?  Doesn’t really matter either, it just did.  So what are we going to do about?  Well, nothing we can do about it.  They went straight to the client on this one – that is the consumer, the public, the people using the world wide web.  They voted with their traffic and that’s the way it is. 


As long as they have a monopoly on the audience, we haven’t a leg to stand on.  Imagine a world in which the biggest media vendor doesn’t give you a percentage of discount, a percentage of media commission.  No volume deal, no share deal, no early payment deal, no annualised incentive.  Even talking to them is on their terms.  Depending on which of their client categories you fit into, you get to speak with a specific layer of their sales organisation.  Thanks for your business.  Paulie in Goodfellas had a similar service ethos.


And yet, and yet, and yet…  Flip this on its’ head and is this not the best thing to ever happen to a media agency?  We don’t want to be commoditised, we don’t want a race to the bottom, we want to add value and be rewarded for more than just bulk buying media space as if it were paper clips or ink cartridges, right? We said that, didn’t we?  Alright then, let’s get on with it.  Google is a level playing field for every agency, every client, everyone who wants to do business with them.  The only differentiator is how well you use their products and services.  In other words, the only differentiator is you, the agency, through your people.  Which is what we said we wanted all along. 


So get out there and start differentiating, get a competitive advantage and leave the moral navel-gazing to someone else.

John Clancy.

Not so long ago, a special birthday took place. On the 6th of August 2011, the Internet celebrated 20 years of life. It could be argued that the Internet has changed everyone’s life, in one way or another. The benefits of the Internet are endless, and when you consider the countless number of businesses that have thrived online, the explosion of social networking and the huge number of news stories that came to life online before anywhere else, it’s easy to want to join in with the birthday celebrations.

Despite this, there is a more sinister side to the online world. In his recent book, the Shallows, Nicholas Carr urges caution to all who now consume online media on a daily basis. Carr argues that each media we consume has a more powerful impact on us than we think. Drawing on philosophy and neuroscience, Carr argues that the media we consume are so powerful, that they actually affect how our brains are wired.

Any neuroscientist will tell you that the brain is changing on a continual basis, adapting to our environment, so that we can go about our daily lives in the most efficient way possible. Everything we do has an effect – this is known as learning. Books, for example, not only tell stories, but also enable focused attention which encourages creativity through deeper thinking. The Internet, on the other hand, has a much different effect. Because of the ease of moving between sites and the endless amount of information available, the Internet is bringing about a loss of concentration and focus. Carr suggests that the Internet is making us think less.

I’m not so sure. I’d certainly doubt anyone working in media would argue that the Internet is making them think less. The seemingly endless number of ways to advertise online need to be given careful thought and consideration before a campaign is planned. The ways of reaching your target audience are vast, and include demographic, contextual and behavioural opportunities. Advertising online is transparent and accountable, so there are numerous ways of assessing how effective an online campaign is. This requires not only time, but also thought, and perhaps surprisingly, a level of creativity.

Beyond advertising, I’m not convinced that the Internet is making us lazy. In a previous post, the idea of the ‘cognitive surplus’ was discussed. People are no longer passively consuming media, but are interacting with brands and with others through opportunities provided online.

Books are still being read, TV is still being watched. The Internet plays a big role in all of our lives, and perhaps our brains are just finding a way of using it best.


Here’s a thought.  And here’s a place to share it too.  What if consumers.  Wait.  Are people consumers?  Or customers?  Or just people?  It bothers me that I’m not sure, but I’m sure I’m not sure.  I had a good conversation with a friend the other week who extolled the virtues of owning up when you don’t know something, which sounds like good advice to me.  And what do we ever do with the virtues of things except extol them?  In fact, I’ve rarely extolled anything other than virtues.

It was Flann O’Briens death-iversary the other day in case you’re wondering what happened there. 

Back to my thought – and we’ll go with consumers – what if consumers don’t really tell us anything?  And they don’t by the way.  What if a rhetorical question wasn’t rhetorical.  I’m reminded of a research group on sponsorship I attended a while back and the group were asked what they would like to see the sponsor do.  They were completely nonplussed.  They didn’t get it, they didn’t have any idea what they’d like to see from the sponsor – and why would they?  Which reminds me further of the apocryphal quote from Henry Ford.  He said if you’d asked people what they wanted before the invention of the motor car, they’d have asked for a faster horse.  And by god I’d like a horse with air-con, power steering and a decent sound system.

Consumers won’t tell us what they want.  And arguably the more you ask them, the further you get from the real answer.  And isn’t that the rub?  It’s also a bit of a linguistic theory – Saussure’s ideas of signifier, signified and meaning.  The idea that the words we use to represent things are arbitrary, but they’re associated with a common meaning.  But how common is that meaning if that meaning could be different to different people?  I mean is my colour red, the same as your colour red?  What if I describe something as smelling red – or is that just synaesthesia? 

We have to be grown ups about understanding consumers – observe them and figure it out.  That’s our job and that’s the fun of it.  If they just told us it’d be very boring anyway. 

Back when I first got into media I remember reading a year review in one of the marketing magazines where they asked agency heads to speak about the year to come.  And I remember Pat Donnelly saying people needed to be less constrained by research, research, research – instead they needed to start trusting their instincts and being bold and brave.  And I remember feeling extremely indignant at the time, thinking – typical – sure if the research doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, of course, ignore it and pretend that you’re justified in doing so. 

And now I’m not so sure. 

I think media agencies need to start having confidence in their convictions.  Just because we’ve more data and facts and figures than anyone else, we become too reliant on them.  Creative agencies need to be more thorough, logical and back up their reasoning (for trying to flog expensive TV production jobs).  And media agencies need to un-clench and borrow a bit of confidence from their colleagues in creative. 

And, and, and. 

And if I was any kind of slave to convention I’d tie this all back up in a neat bow, re-referencing Flann.  But I’m better than that, I’m able to resist – and sure after a pint of plain, that’s probably what he’d have wanted anyway.


Online Rewards

March 22, 2011

Each day it seems as though there is a new statistic on how big and powerful Facebook, blogging and other forms of online communication have become. This weekend it emerged that Facebook now has 500 million users and is the most visited site in the U.S, ahead of even Google.

The facts are there. What seems to be missing, however, is any kind of explanation as to why so many of us have become part of the ever-expanding online community.  Guardian columnist, Oliver Burkeman offers an interesting suggestion. In his eyes, it’s all about reward. Long before Mark Zuckerburg was ever born, it emerged that people repeat behaviours that they find rewarding. According to Burkeman, we click compulsively because there might or might not be a reward – a new email, a new blog post – waiting for us. In other words, technology is merely facilitating our appetite for ideas, suggestions and messages.

Social networks and blogs offer not only information, but also the opportunity to present ourselves in the best light possible. It’s all too easy to de-tag unflattering photos and let others know about what trendy things we’ve been up to at the weekend. Aoife recently blogged about how Facebook places now allows users to let friends know how much of a “social bee” they are in real time. This is rewarding too.

Facebook rewards

And let’s not forget the more recent advent of tangible rewards being offered by the likes of Facebook places and other geotargeted promotions. Money-off offers and freebies further incentivise being part of an online society. 

 No matter how you look at it, social media is rewarding. Who can argue with 500 million people?


X Factor Rules Again

October 7, 2010


Here we go again – another year of X Factor finals. And what a brilliant job the producers have done so far to build up the excitement and publicity surrounding the show. Firstly Cheryl bows out of the auditions early on because of malaria (Tick: pre awareness campaign). Next Chloe Mafia makes it through the auditions in spite of being a prostitute and cocaine addict (Tick: keep momentum going through one of the less exciting parts of the show). Third Gamu Nhengu, who made it through to the judges’ houses, is being deported from the UK for her mother’s immigration breaches (Tick: colossal amount of publicity in the lead up to the first live final).

Last year it was Jedward, this year it’s personal scandals.

And their new strategy is working. Last weekend’s UK viewing figures topped the final episode in 2008.

Just to give you an idea of the continuous growth of the programme in Ireland. From the viewership of the first TV3 show in 2006 to now: Housewife with Kids are up 66%, while the youth 15-34 audience is up 700%

Everyone knows when the X Factor comes back on air. You can’t avoid it. I think if I wasn’t interested I would watch it anyway just so I don’t feel left out of 50% of conversations. It’s unbelievable when you think about the amount of talk it generates.

In an evolving media climate where advertising channels are becoming more and more fragmented, it seems that X Factor is one of the most unifying channels of all.

And who knows what Simon Cowell has up his sleeve next? Bring on Saturday night.


Let Them Be Kids

August 24, 2010

I had a nice chat with an eight-year-old on Sunday. She was showing me her REAL baby, a doll that ingests, digests, and cries, the doll on which this child spends all of her pocket money – buying clothes, nappies, and the all-important ‘accessories’. Our discussion took place at a Christening, and she had dressed her baby for the occasion, in real clothes, no less. She force-fed it water all afternoon, prompting numerous nappy changes, (lest the child develop a rash).

This eight-year-old speaks with an American accent. Really. I took a while for me to place it, but there it was; that undeniable, slightly Southern, but fairly neutral, Disney twang. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but you see, she has lived in Dublin her whole life. So, there were only really two possible explanations; too much Hannah Montana, or too great a wish to be like Hannah Montana. Probably both, I fear.  

So I ran a few questions by her, while I had her attention.

Q 1): “Which company has a ‘tick’ on its stuff, like the one a teacher gives you?”

A: (tut) “Easy….Nike!” (pronounced like ‘Bike’, but full marks all the same)

Q 2): Which one has three stripes close together?

A:  Adidas (2 out of 2)

Q 3): Which has an apple with a bite taken out of it? (Ok, so that one was pretty simple, a bit obvious, even to an eight- year old, but the answer astounded me)

A: iPhones

This is a sample of one, so I’m loathe to read too much into it. But there is very little atypical about this child, so I can only think she must be reasonably representative. She is from a very regular, suburban, nuclear family, who are neither rich nor poor, and she goes to an ordinary National School.

I recently caught myself, and then berated myself for, lamenting the fact that we don’t have more insight into children’s attitudes and opinions about products and services. Probably time to step away from the computer screen, you say.

So much is being taken away from children, especially urban/ suburban ones. For a multitude of reasons, they have so much less freedom than in times gone by. They are bombarded with messages from brands, and as a result are much more commercially aware than previous generations. Amongst even very young children, most have their own cash and many have the power to choose where they spend it. They are constantly being stimulated by TV, Video Games, play dates, playgrounds, websites, basically, organised fun of all kinds. I remember when playing meant running around. Whatever happened to going out your door at 9am on a summer’s day and being told not to come back until lunchtime?

Leave them alone I say, return their freedom, let them be children and protect their imaginations at all costs. After all, if we kill their creativity completely, who will come up with the killer campaigns of the future?


Back in 2008, in our very first wave of ID, we asked Irish 12-29s a simple question: “If they had to choose, which could they not live without: TV, Mobile Phone or Internet”?

The mobile phone won out overall, particularly for teenagers. However, in our most recent wave of ID, the Internet has moved ahead to claim victory. We also saw over 1/3rd of young people claiming they were using their mobile less to communicate with friends, and using online methods instead. And over a 1/3rd who said they felt more comfortable communicating with friends online than using their mobile.

Luckily, we’ve reached the point where that question is just no longer relevant. The lines between mobile, internet and even TV, are not just blurred, they’re quickly becoming obsolete.

Every year for the last five years, some brave soldier has pronounced it “The Year of the Mobile”. And every year they’ve been wrong. But I’m fairly confident that we’re finally seeing a tipping point, as mobile internet becomes liberated from the confines of the geekiest techies. In this research wave 1/5th of 12-29s said they are using their mobile phones to go online on a daily basis, and 30% are using mobile internet on a weekly basis. Those figures are positively mainstream.

According to Mashable, the history of mobile, can now be divided into pre-iPhone and post-iPhone. They say the impact that the iPhone has had, on both the mobile industry and computing industry in general, cannot be overstated.  Yes mobile internet has been around a while, and LG were the first to release a touchscreen phone….but Apple were the ones who really cracked it.

And crack it they did. There are reportedly somewhere between a quarter and a half a million iPhone users in Ireland. Not all of that mobile internet usage is being done on iPhones, but they’ve bestowed a new relevance onto the concept of a Smartphone. The movement we’re seeing is a ripple effect, from the iPhone out.

A new wave of mobile is now upon us.


Respect the Timings!

November 27, 2009

I love the way Coca Cola and Budweiser respect Christmas and don’t advertise till December.

I hold their brands in higher esteem because of this. I especially look forward to the Coca Cola ‘Holidays are coming’ ads in December, and know then, that it really is Christmas. If I saw them in November, I wouldn’t feel the same – three weeks build up is enough for me – and I think most people feel the same.


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