During the NASCAR Pocono 500 race, televised on TNT, a very curious thing happened: Viewers tuned into the race saw a commercial for Twitter! Not, as you might expect, a call-to-action from TNT asking viewers to participate in the conversation on Twitter. But a real, bonafide, paid for commercial!
Much like another tech giant, Google, who first started advertising on TV in the 2010 Super Bowl, Twitter’s foray into the world of TV advertising had some people in the advertising community asking one simple question: Why?
Anyone who watches television these days can see Twitter’s growing footprint. Live shows poll viewers through Twitter. Prime Time TV shows have hash-tagged phrases burned into the corner of the screen driving viewers to join the conversation. And even MTV addressed the name change of one of their most recent new shows, by telling the public that they wanted to make it more Twitter friendly.
So what gives, Twitter?
The smart money is that they are trying to build a business through advertising, and using live events on TV is a great way to build a brand. Despite Twitter’s virtual omnipresence, their TV buys suggest that they want to suggest to the public that they are a place for content, and partnerships.
The NASCAR commercial was part of a larger strategy, wherein people could access curated Tweets and pictures on a branded NASCAR page. Something that wisely leverages their content, en masse, to advertisers. This goes well beyond “Promoted Tweets” and actually uses their footprint to tell a larger story, with real-time content. Something that, I believe, is a worthwhile product for anyone in the content game, especially as two-screen experiences become more mainstream.
I suspect this is the first move of many to build a robust advertising business, which will take them down the road to a lucrative IPO. After all, why should Facebook get to have all the fun?