Category Archives: twitter

Big Data & What it Means For Today’s TV Industry

Since I began working at Bluefin Labs, the industry that revolves around big data has fascinated me. I wrote this blog post for Bluefin a couple weeks ago summarizing the idea of big data and how it’s affecting the social TV industry today. Check it out!

What’s the Big Deal with Big Data?

These days it seems like you can’t check Twitter or browse news articles without coming across the term “big data” at least a couple times.

But big data isn’t exactly new, so why all the hubbub now?  Well for starters, the scale of data collection today is of legendary proportions.

To call what’s happening a torrent or an avalanche of data is to use entirely inadequate metaphors. This is a development on an astronomical scale. And it’s presenting us with a predictable but very hard problem: our capacity to collect digital data has outrun our capacity to archive, curate and – most importantly – analyse it.

-“Why Big Data is now such a big deal” John Naughton, The Guardian

When I say legendary, I mean it – we’ve had to create a whole new set of multiples to describe the volume of data being collected – from terabytes to petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes and yottabytes!

Ok, we’ve got a boatload of information. So…now what? John Naughton again:

Hidden in those billions of haystacks there may be some very valuable needles. We saw a glimpse of the possibilities when Google revealed that by analysing the billions of queries it handles every hour it could predict flu epidemics way ahead of conventional epidemiological methods.

Retailers such as Walmart, Tesco and Amazon do millions of transactions every hour and store all the data relating to each in colossal databases they then “mine” for information about market trends, consumer behaviour and other things. The same goes for Google, Facebook and Twitter et al. For these outfits, data is the new gold.

Mr. Naughton may not be exaggerating. In a GigaOM post Robert Greene notes:

According to a 2011 study by the Aberdeen Group, organizations that effectively integrate complex data are able to use up to 50 percent larger data sets for business intelligence and analytics, to integrate external unstructured data into business processes twice as successfully, and to slash error incidences almost in half. The connection between a company’s success and its ability to leverage big data is very clear.

The new gold, indeed. But let’s circle back to one of Mr. Naughton’s initial observations:  “it’s presenting us with a predictable but very hard problem: our capacity to collect digital data has outrun our capacity to archive, curate and – most importantly – analyse it.

In an Ad Age blog post, CRM expert Hal Brierley calls this an “Achilles heel of [the advertising/marketing] business: we don’t have enough specialized knowledge to adequately draw insights from all the data we have. Frankly, we are amid a talent crisis.”

On Monday eMarketer released a report outlining how marketers are struggling to link digital data to the big data picture.

“Without the ability to integrate big data collection and usage processes, companies are certain to fall short in delivering a truly personalized customer experience integrated across ad formats and channels. Such a mandate is of significant importance as consumers increasingly interact with brands across multiple channels and screens.”

Continue reading on the Bluefin blog…

AmEx and Twitter’s New Program – Sync Tweet Save

This week Twitter and American Express announced a new program that allows cardmembers to sync their AmEx and Twitter accounts in order to receive discounts from big brands (Whole Foods, Zappos, Best Buy, & more) just by using certain hashtags.

I was immediately fascinated and upon diving in, started to (excitedly) wonder if this could change the game for social TV (thoughts about that whole civil war thing in my last post). It was one particular quote from Fast Company that caught my attention: “AmEx has finally developed a way to demonstrate a tweet’s ROI–and not just in terms of commerce.”

You can read my overview of the program on Bluefin’s blog.

I had been thinking that YES, this is it, this is how social TV can finally begin to be monetized and thus survive…ensuring that I have a job :) But then my colleague Mike brought up a completely valid (and obvious, to my dismay) point: How is this different than a direct mail or similar, campaign? You’re just measuring how many people use the hashtag, and if they actually redeem the coupon.

That argument makes complete sense, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is something big. Probably because of the sheer simplicity. I mean, if you have an AmEx card you log on to your account, pop in your Twitter name, and then…well, that’s it. Whenever you come across one of their branded hashtags, you use it in a tweet or RT it. Then you just use your card with that retailer. And your card is credited that amount.

Is it just me, or is that tantalizingly easy? As a consumer, I do one action once to set it up, and then keep on tweetin’ like normal and just keep my eye out for hashtags. There’s nothing I need to remember when I go to the store – no interaction with a cashier or mention of a coupon. I don’t even have to open my Groupon app!

Of course, there are security issues and viewer fatigue associated with this program, but that’s the world we live in. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out, because I think it could be big.

#SocialTV – The Civil War Rages On

I wrote the essay below last month as part of my interview process with Bluefin Labs in Cambridge, MA. I’m THRILLED to announce that I’ve since accepted a position with them as Associate Marketing Manager/social media wizard and I now spend my days immersed in the world of social TV analytics. I adore it.

Anyways, I’ve been meaning to post this so here you go…enjoy. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and don’t be afraid to challenge what I’ve laid out! 

The TV industry is in the midst of a civil war. The players have failed to collectively and cooperatively adapt to the explosion of mobile technologies and time-shifted, streaming content. Video-on-demand has caused a significant decrease in the amount of available ad space, and as advertising has been a financial tent pole of the industry for decades, this is a problem.

The result is a full-fledged war with independent distributors. Netflix, once applauded for its excellent library of network content, has been unable to renew contracts with key suppliers. The decrease in availability of popular content is upsetting a customer base that has quickly become accustomed to getting TV wherever, whenever, and however they want it. The advent of social media has enabled consumers to voice their opinions and concerns publicly – and they’re ready for someone to start listening. If the TV industry wants to remain an integral part of daily life, it needs to stop fighting and tune in. The opportunity for the evolution of both broadcast and advertising models has arrived via social media.

The current TV landscape, filled with on-screen hashtags and second screen apps, encourages social engagement around content. Self-elected focus groups are emerging on Facebook and Twitter, with viewers voicing their honest opinions about show storylines and brand advertising. Companies like Bluefin Labs, Trendrr, and Social Guide are analyzing this social media data and making custom reports available. This data can be harnessed by the industry to create unprecedented engagement and loyalty around content.

Reality TV and game shows are already doing this to some extent with online voting, but that merely scratches the surface of what’s possible. The future of TV depends on an overarching model where network and ad content are driven by social engagement.

By allowing viewers to change or even create show storylines via social media comments, creators can develop pre, during, and post show content, keeping audiences engaged longer. This gives viewers a vested interest in watching a show in real time. Knowing that their opinion and feedback are being recognized will increase loyalty, but time-shifted content is here to stay so further adaptation is needed.

Until recently, viewers accepted commercials as a necessary evil in the television world. Now, mobile, on-demand, and time-shifted content threatens this advertising model. Platforms like Netflix give viewers an ad-free entertainment experience, which frustrates advertisers, and their discontent is causing the networks to pull top streaming content from independent providers in an effort to maintain funding.

The TV industry is missing an opportunity for cooperation here. By focusing on tailoring advertising to the consumer based on what they’re watching and what they’re saying online, the industry can deliver a uniquely personal brand experience, regardless of delivery medium. Relevant advertising will be better received by the consumer, even if included in time-shifted content.

Independent platforms like Hulu and YouTube are already doing this with “choose-your-own-ad” options before shows. The industry needs to agree upon a model similar to this for all platforms and distributors. Better-targeted media buys within this model are possible, based on the demographical data provided by social media that reveals what brands certain show audiences are talking about online.

The data is there, the technology is in place… so what’s holding the TV industry back? My best guess is fear. They’re clinging to old broadcast and advertising models because they are “tried and true.” In doing so, they’re ignoring the honest opinions of millions of consumers who are dying to be heard. If TV wants to get out of its rut, they’ve got to start listening. Because you see, it’s all about human connection. “TV is the most powerful medium in the world. It fulfills basic human needs: it informs, connects us socially, and creates incredibly powerful emotions.” (James McQuivey, Forrester Research, at Hill Holliday’s TVNext Summit, 2011)

By taking the social currency of TV and blending it with feedback from social media, the television industry has a chance to create personal experiences for audiences based on true interaction between content creators and viewers. If key players of the TV industry can stop fighting long enough to listen to consumers, they will discover a symbiotic world where content creation, distribution, and advertising blend to create a satisfying and profitable viewing experience.

SocialTV Summit NYC: A Day of Pure Awesome

This week I was lucky enough to not only attend, but work behind the scenes at the SocialTV Summit run by Andy Batkin. I want to give a huge thanks to Andy – I shamelessly begged him for a ticket via Twitter and he was so kind to let me be a part of this amazing event. Lesson: It pays to be tenacious.

There were a ton of great ideas bounced around during the day (Lost Remote gives a great overview), and I saw lots of correlation to the ideas presented at Hill Holliday’s #TVNext this past January (and a lot of the same faces). I loved that periodically throughout the #SocialTV Twitter stream was projected on the main screens – anyone could join the conversation.

My main take-aways:

*Though it’s still a tiny infant, SocialTV is here to stay. There are a lot of experiments – and failures – to come as the industry develops, but isn’t that just energizing?!

*SocialTV may have a direct impact on the survival of live TV, especially when it comes to sports. The NFL in particular comes to my mind – all those damn commercial breaks makes it prime for social sharing.

*Consumers do NOT want the first screen polluted and networks need to respect that.

*And probably the most important point of all: Advertisers will play a key role in funding the SocialTV industry, and we need to get them on board stat.

Lost Remote’s Natan Edelsburg quotes Kevin Conroy, President, Interactive Media Group, Univision:

We’re still at a point where it’s a mistake to monetize [social] impressions on a discreet basis, those impressions on a standalone basis are not value enough to drive the right economics. A great bridge to get where we all want to go is by recognizing that those impressions when packaged into an overall experience have a lot of value. The media business is about reach and frequency, and we have opportunities through this lens…. I think we’ll lift the value of these impressions, lift the CPM. Let’s face it, it’s not free for us, it’s not free for everyone. We need to begin to see that kind of ROI to invest further.

There were very few agencies represented at the SocialTV Summit which was surprising. I strongly believe that there can be successful SocialTV advertising campaigns that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved – networks, agencies, and the consumer – but it’ll take a lot of creative thinking. Let’s start now!

Mo Krochmal, Digital Educator & Founder of Social Media News NY created  a Twitter round up from the summit on Storify –  check out Part 1 and Part 2 for a great summary!

And finally, here are just a few more of my favorite Tweets from the day:

INSIDE: A Social TV Experience

I hadn’t heard much about this project, so I only took a few glances this afternoon. But when it was still going strong at 8pm I had to watch the trailer.

The INSIDE page on Facebook says:

Inside consists of film, videos and social media interactions. These pieces will live organically on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But you can also see all highlights and films in one place at, as events happen.

Intel and Toshiba present a Social Film experience, from the director of “Disturbia,” starring Emmy Rossum and You.

Christina is a tough, resilient, 24-year old girl. She’s been trapped in a room. She has a laptop. And she needs your help to get out.

The website keeps going down (didn’t they anticipate the traffic?)

From a glance, it seems like Facebook has been far more engaged that Twitter on a pure numbers basis, but there’s still a lack of general buzz.

Just over 600 followers on Twitter. Really? (As of 8:30pm EST)

Christina’s first activity was three days ago. I didn’t hear about it until the first “episode” premiered today.

Conclusion: I love the idea, and I like the level of commitment they’re putting into this, but why isn’t there more of a following? Is it just early? The whole thing didn’t seem to be advertised too much (I like to think I would’ve at least heard SOMETHING about it before now).

Why is it sponsored by Intel and Toshiba?

Twitter Journalism: Why You Should Take it Seriously

My latest article is up on The Next Great Generation! Here’s a quick taste, and please click over to keep reading!

Photo credit: Richmond Magazine

While social media is gaining speed and recognition within the journalism world, the buzz has centered on international events, specifically in the Middle East. NPR editor Andy Carvin showed Twitter’s potential when he became what the Guardian called a “one-man broadcast channel-cum-newswire.”

But what about domestic issues? For the most part, Twitter has not been an effective or powerful tool for journalists in America, reporting on American issues…until now.

New York Times reporter Brian Stelter recently demonstrated Twitter’s rightful place in the journalism industry through his coverage of the tornado outbreak in Joplin, Missouri in May, 2011.

We’ve heard about the resulting devastation and loss of human life, but unless your family was literally in a tornado’s path, it’s difficult to fully grasp the mental and emotional severity of the situation, even in this age of “Breaking News” and text alerts.

Enter Brian Stelter. In the span of 24 hours, Stelter used Twitter and Instagram to report on the Joplin tornados in a completely new way. He opened the window to his experience in real-time by sharing not just facts about the disaster, but also his own struggle to comprehend it. Click here to read more.

I hope Bill wasn’t joking…

…but you never know. Anyways, I thought this says a lot about the future of social media in entertainment (and in under 140 characters!)