Exclusive: Facebook Offers Data To Improve TV Buying

With the upfront advertising market approaching, a research company working with Facebook is releasing a study showing how data from the giant social networking site can be used to more effectively target and buy television commercials.

The analysis of public Facebook data by 4C, which has been applying computations science to big data for 20 years, found connections between the brands people interact with and the shows they watch. Some of those connections confirmed long-held media-buying practices, such as beer companies advertising in sports, but others yielded surprising new connections.

Social media companies Facebook and Twitter have been jockeying to form closer ties with the TV business, in part to get closer to big spending TV advertisers and broadcast buyers. Both companies are looking to build their advertising businesses, which will be increasingly video oriented, which could make them competitors for TV ad dollars, as well as digital ad spending

The new study also shows new ways in which advertising on TV and Facebook can more effectively work together.

Facebook and 4C say the data is useful to brands, media buyers and television programmers.

"4C is currently working with several television networks that see tremendous value in analyzing public social data to inform their program positioning and brand partnership opportunities,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C. “One of the major networks has made educated choices about what viewers want to see and is using our affinity-based insights to inform their efforts for the upcoming upfront process."

4C has also been working with divisions of agency holding company Publicis Groupe. "We've been impressed with how 4C integrates data and insights into their social advertising platform, and are looking forward to seeing how they will utilize their expertise in data science for cross channel opportunities,” said Lisa Weinstein, president, global digital, data and analytics, Starcom MediaVest Group.

“We’re talking about a major milestone,” said Rob Creekmore, advertising research manger, marketing science, at Facebook. “For the first time TV media planners can use 4C’s analysis and public Facebook data to plan TV and Facebook media together.” Better data on how social campaigns interact with TV could lead to more spending on Facebook ads.

The study analyzed 150 brands in five major categories and more than 800 programs on 14 broadcast and cable networks, seeking affinities between them.

For a beer brand, the study found high brand affinity for sports, including ESPN’s SportsCenter and Monday Night Football.

If the beer brand were negotiating with NBC, it would be looking to buy more Sunday Night Football. In talks with Comedy Central, the beer maker would want to heavy up on series including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and TheColbert Report. Other shows scoring high with lovers of this brand of beer included TBS’ Men at Work, ESPN’s SportsNation and First Take, Seinfeld on TBS, Boondocks on Adult Swim and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The study found that the genre of programming that had the highest affiliation with financial services advertising was reality. For example, Chase’s Sapphire credit card matched up with Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. Other offbeat matches between products and the shows with the highest affinity for them included Barbie and Saturday Night Live, Microsoft and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hot Pockets and the NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

“We see the research as truly actionable,” said Neuhauser. “Too many folks see Facebook as just an activation channel. Because of the nature of social, we actually believe it can be one of the most powerful business intelligence tools that has ever come into the market.”

"In the past, many brands have had a hard time accessing and understanding behavioral data. But now our clients are able to use Facebook behavior to understand how consumers think and why they choose one brand over another," Neuhauser said. "By making informed decisions about their Facebook and television advertising, these companies can appeal to both their current and prospective audiences and intensify their marketing power."

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.