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Recently, Facebook introduced features such as hashtags, verified accounts, and trending topics in order for more relevant conversations to surface and increase engagement. In its latest push to increase user participation, Facebook is venturing into the social television space. According to Variety, Facebook is teaming up with ABC’s Dancing With The Stars to feature real-time conversations that people on Facebook are having about the show. Television viewers will also see interesting statistics about those who participate in these conversations.
While we’ve yet to see how this experience will be delivered, we presume a call-to-action will appear on the television screen, reminding viewers to use a certain hashtag when posting Facebook updates. Where and when these user conversations and engagement statistics appear on the screen are also up for grabs.
But, we do know that this is the beginning of cross-channel marketing where the combination of television and the social raises notable implications for advertisers and marketing platforms alike.
1. Network advertisers will be able to source actionable targeting signals
With the help of Facebook, networks like ABC can potentially discern which shows are being discussed, as well as the demographics of people behind those conversations. This data could then be used to promote their lineup of shows to select audiences with hyper-targeted ads on Facebook.
For example, once ABC recognizes that Cassie and Rob (in Dancing With The Stars) are a hit with New York women ages 18 to 25, it can then publish Facebook ads of the dancing couple targeting that demographic in order to achieve the best possible ROI.
2. Brand marketers should prepare for cross-channel marketing
Given recent partnerships with the top television networks (ABC, NBC, CNN, and Fox), Facebook appears to be positioning itself to offer a complimentary presence on the television screen. This is understandable since many users check their Facebook while watching television. In fact, according to a 2012 eMarketer study, 77% of people watch television while using either their smartphones or computers with 42% of them frequenting social networking websites at the same time.
Because of this changing paradigm, Facebook recognizes that there’s an opportunity for brands to use digital advertising to reinforce their existing TV ads, which can bolster their messaging and ROI.
Facebook recently commissioned a study with Nielsen to investigate this opportunity, and the results noted that Facebook advertising can contribute significant incremental and duplicate reach to that of television networks. Given this duplicate reach, brands can implement unique end-to-end ad experiences with their target audience. There’s an opportunity to creatively use both television and the social in complementary ways to effectively target addressable audiences.
3. Marketing platforms will need to build automated processes
As Variety notes, Facebook has integrated its data into TV networks before—one instance being CNN’s newscasts for the 2012 Presidential Election. In that case, Facebook engineers manually prepared their data in order to generate insights, an example of which can be seen below.
Now, Facebook has shared two API tools with television networks – the public feed API and keyword insights API – that automatically capture and break down conversations into specific demographics and other variables. Taking Facebook’s lead, marketing platforms will need to automate processes of their own in order to enable cross-channel marketing.
Supplementing your TV presence with relevant brand messaging across multiple screens is becoming a greater reality every day. We’re excited to see the direction this takes, and it will be interesting to note the impact new tests like Facebook’s partnership with ABC’s Dancing With The Stars will have on both marketers and marketing platforms.