TV x Twitter: New findings for advertisers and networks

People love to watch TV with Twitter. During recent events like #SuperBowlXLVII with over 24.9M Tweets about the game and halftime, or last season’s finale of “Pretty Little Liars” with a record-breaking 1.9M Tweets (as measured by Nielsen’s SocialGuide) it’s clear that TV and Twitter are better together.

In addition to the fun and excitement of second screen experiences for audiences, marketers and networks also benefit from the power of TV and Twitter. Recent research we’ve commissioned has led to three compelling findings:

1. #hashtags in TV ads drive positive brand conversation.

To analyze the impact of hashtags in TV ads on Twitter earned media, we studied more than 500 television commercials in the consumer electronics category. We analyzed over 63,000 comments in response to those ads, across more than 100,000 television airings.

We found that hashtags drive significantly more earned media for brands. TV ads with hashtags had 42% more Tweets about the ads than those without hashtags. The analysis showed that not only do TV spots with hashtags drive more immediate conversation, they also trigger higher quality responses. In fact, comments in response to ads with hashtags were 18% more relevant to the messages communicated in the ad.

2. Twitter keeps viewers tuned in to advertising.

People don’t just tweet about ads; they use Twitter while watching TV to express their opinions and follow the conversation. Wanting a better understanding of how this behavior affected TV advertising, we worked with Symphony Advanced Media, which passively tracks the media usage of thousands of people. Our goal was to understand how using Twitter affects commercial viewing. In other words, does Twitter make it more or less likely for TV viewers to remain tuned in during ads?

We found that use of Twitter while watching TV decreases an audience member’s likelihood to change the channel during ads. According to the Symphony analysis, TV viewers who are not multi-tasking on mobile devices tune away 17% of the time during ad breaks. This number drops to 13% when TV viewers are in fact multi-tasking on their phones. Among Twitter users, however, tune-away is the lowest: 8%. When viewers are on Twitter, they are more likely to view a brand’s TV spot.

3. Twitter makes TV ads more effective.

The research is clear that Twitter leads to more commercial viewing, but are Twitter users more impacted by ads? Working with Millward Brown Digital, we conducted a study of more than 7,500 respondents to compare the impact of TV ads among people who watched TV with and without Twitter.

We found that viewers watching TV without a second-screen had an average TV ad recall of 40%. But among those using Twitter, ad recall was significantly higher: 53%. These viewers were also 13% more likely to discuss shows and 3% more likely to recommend programs, making TV x Twitter a win/win for advertisers and networks alike.

Our research also demonstrated a difference in the ability for a TV spot to help build a brand. We found that the impact of a TV commercial, as measured by a lift in brand favorability (the likelihood for a viewer to rate a brand ‘excellent’ on a five-point scale) was 7%. Among those viewers who were also tweeting, the lift was 18%. The lift in purchase intent was also higher among those tweeting: 30% compared to 16% in the TV-only group.

We are excited by this new round of research which complements earlier findings that TV ad targeting boosts key brand metrics, and that Twitter lowers cost-per-acquisition and increases television ROI. We look forward to learning even more about the ways Twitter makes TV more engaging for viewers as it grows value for brands and TV networks.

Download the infographic with all the key insights.