Will Twitter's plan to own the Euro 2012 conversation pay off?
If something kept you from watching England’s agonising defeat by Italy at Euro 2012 on television, you wouldn’t have missed much of the drama by following the event on Twitter.
With no shortage of pundits, celebrities, politicians, ex-England players and fans tweeting every tackle, every chance and that fateful penalty miss, Twitter’s claim that activity on its network “mirrors the roar of the crowd” seems to be fairly accurate.
But it’s the social network itself that’s been making all the noise off the pitch.
Last week, at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced an aggressive rollout of the company’s advertising products.
But most importantly, the social network quietly announced on its company blog the launch of a dedicated page to aggregate all activity around the #Euro2012 hashtag.
A curated, destination page for every match.
At first glance the destination page doesn’t look terribly revolutionary; it’s simply a page that displays tweets hash-tagged content in one place. But scratch beneath the surface, and you can see the foundations of a strategic push to captialise on – and commercialise – events.
Turning its 140m-strong user-base into a commercial opportunity is now number one priority for the social network – and using live broadcast events to drive targeted engagement through partnerships with major show brands and sports franchises is a mainstay of that strategy.
The move, which builds on an earlier deployment for NASCAR races in the USA, provides a focused opportunity for the deliberate curation of conversations – and, of course, presents a platform to support the advertising products Twitter is seeking to expand.
Targeting and relevance is vital for attracting advertisers and brands. By filtering out meaningless content, Twitter is creating a far more focused experience. And that could be very appealing for brands that want to own the conversation on our second and third screens.
But these destination pages, also present an opportunity for wholesale sponsorship opportunities. It’s not such a leap to see the very light-touch football-branding of Twitter’s page being sold to a sponsor – and even to sponsors without an official association through broadcast or franchise tie-ups. It’s also quite easy to see how the same model can be applied to different sports and events.
And don’t we have an Olympics coming up?
So 1-0 to Twitter, then?
Not necessarily… This is still a nascent and unstructured landscape - and although brands are still finding their way through, as Nike recently found out at the hands of the Advertising Standards Authority, the relative blank canvas presents a fascinating opportunity for broadcasters, brands and sponsors to break new creative ground.
Does Twitter’s subtle move for aggregation represent a landgrab for the conversation about major events on secondary screens? Will Twitter turn curation into a bona fide commercial opportunity in its own right and impinge on existing broadcast/franchise sponsorship deals?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Ian Davies, Product Manager, Content Discovery