Facebook Woos TV Networks With Data

Sep 29, 2013

Facebook Woos TV Networks With Data


Facebook is laying down a new gauntlet in its battle with Twitter to dominate online conversation around television: more data for broadcasters. This week, Facebook says it will begin sending weekly reports to America’s four largest television networks, offering a glimpse of how much chatter their shows are generating on the social network. The reports will reveal how many “actions” — likes, comments, or shares — a television episode has inspired on Facebook and how many members participated in an action.Facebook, which will not make the results generally available, will share the data reports with ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS, and a small number of select partners.

Facebook and Twitter are in a heated fight to own the Web’s town square, because becoming the go-to hub for real-time events like television shows could draw more user activity and more advertising dollars. A key piece in winning this battle is data — proving to networks and advertisers that the activity on their service is meaningful.

In recent months, both companies have tried to bolster their relationships with television networks and highlight data reports on user activity during live and television events. Twitter, which has been gearing up for its initial public offering, is expected to begin to distribute the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” its first measurement report in partnership with media measurement giant Nielsen, on Monday. The report will measure how many people participated in a conversation about a particular show, and how many people saw those tweets.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment on Facebook’s recent television efforts.

Facebook, for its part, has opened up more of its public firehouse to television networks, even though a lot of the chatter on the site happens more privately, in posts shared just between friends. Earlier this month, Facebook unveiled a new program to allow select media partners, such as CNN, to tap its public feed and see activity related to certain keywords. The new television data report will tally all posts, including private ones, but Facebook says the data is collected anonymously and will only be shown in aggregate to protect users’ privacy.

The new Facebook reports are fairly limited. They show, for example, that a recent episode of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” generated more than 1 million interactions from some 750 thousand people.

This figure may be a conservative estimate. In order to calculate chatter, Facebook had to create a library of keywords for each show, such as the names of main characters. The team uses this library to make sure that a comment that seems related to a show like ABC’s “Scandal,” for example, isn’t about a separate topic. (Before the system was fine-tuned, for example, the team noticed that one show, CBS’s NCIS received an abnormally high number of mentions because the string “NCIS” is also part of the city “San Francisco.”)

According to Facebook, the company hopes to include more data over time, such as how many people saw activity that talked about a show.

Despite its limitations, Facebook’s approach does show how the social is trying to differentiate itself from its rival, by highlighting its large user base rooted in real identities.

“The conversation is being generated by a group that is much more representative of the general population– that means we should have a better signal as it relates to ratings,” says Daniel Slotwiner, the head of Facebook’s measurement team.

David Poltrack, CBS’s chief research officer, says he has noticed interesting nuances between the activity on Twitter versus Facebook. Although he finds Twitter’s real-time conversations valuable, he said the network has noticed that young females are disproportionately active on the service, versus the general population.

The strength of that demographic, he says, will sometimes lead to exceptionally high activity for certain shows. He predicts that Facebook, with its broader audience, may be more “correlated with actual viewing levels,” he says.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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