NexTV: Social Media Activity Factors in Ad, Carriage Talks

New York – Social media activity is becoming an increasingly important factor in network carriage negotiations with distributors, as well as upfront talks with advertisers, a panel of top social media executives said at the Multichannel News/B&C NexTV Summit here Wednesday.

Fox Networks Group director, distribution strategy John Choi said that audience engagement – which can be measured by activity on social media like Twitter and Facebook, has become a big factor in negotiations, especially with its Fox Broadcasting network, which has struggled in the ratings recently.

Choi pointed to the Fox show Bones, which doesn’t have particularly high Nielsen ratings, but has a strong following on Twitter and Facebook, which indicate it has a rabid fan base.

“When you talk about the impact of social on affiliate dollars negotiated and paid for, it’s a huge impact,” Choi said at the “Media, Social Media, Monetizing Content: Digital VOD Online and OTT,” panel, moderated by B&C programming and digital media editor Daniel Holloway. “Fox Broadcasting, the entire group is really open to any kind of activity to make sure we have highly engaged viewers, even though the ratings might not be there.”

AOL vice president, head of business development and partnerships Frank Besteiro said engagement also shaping how the online giant presents its content.

“We’re constantly looking at trending topics,” Besteiro said. “Nobody comes to AOL in the middle of the day to get their news; for the most part people will start their day with AOL. Based on what we’re seeing what is trending on Twitter what are people engaging in, we’re going to take a look at our massive library and program against those trends and topics.”

Watchwith CEO Zane Vella said the greatest value for engagement could be at the upfronts, where networks present their upcoming slate of shows and try to convince advertisers to buy ad time before they air.

“If you’re promoting a program trying to convince marketers that they should vie for ownership of key positions in these programs upfront and you’re not talking about social strategy, you’re not talking about how your engaging that audience and how that activation is going to work to the benefit of the marketers, including ways you can work with their DMPs [data management platforms], then you’re failing because your competitors are,” Vella said. “Advertisers are actively looking for those engaged audiences, because they are an indicator of other characteristics that are in some ways more valuable than traditional ratings points.”

TiVo vice president of interactive advertising Mark Risis was particularly encouraged by the growing use of DMP, which collects, organizes, and activates first- and third-party audience data from several sources, including online, offline, or mobile.

“The trend we’ve been seeing is that notion of TV data starting to break out of closed ecosystem quantified by Nielsen” Risis said. “For example merging set-top data with purchase behavior data and things like that, allowing TV viewership to be seen through other lenses to find the audience that could be that passionate small audience that is really engaged. For us, that is the right audience and we shouldn’t be penalized because the rating isn’t there.”