Amid Twitter’s TV Gains, Could The Social TV Market Be Losing Its Luster?

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SocialTVTwitter’s wading deeper into the TV pool.

The end goal? Unlock more viewer data to balance the scale on social engagement and determine the opportune time to push paid media promotions.

With its latest acquisition of real-time social data analytics platform Trendrr, which is used by a range of media companies and TV networks such as Telemundo and ABC for “multiscreen” campaigns, it’s also picking up the company’s Twitter-certified product Curatorr. Curatorr, Trendrr’s founder Mark Ghuneim wrote in a blog post, “will work with media companies, marketers and display ecosystem partners to create compelling user experiences – continuing to pursue our initial charter of focusing on the real-time aspects of TV and media.”

“The Trendrr acquisition continues Twitter's move to monetize the platform through a combination of more visible ad units and data to support advertising through other media,” commented David Cooperstein, VP and marketing practice leader at Forrester Research. “With Trendrr and Bluefin and the deal with Nielsen, Twitter will be able to show brands where their message and products are resonating and the value of those audiences.”

Twitter’s no stranger to social TV, having snapped up Bluefin Labs for some $90 million last winter. Earlier in the summer, Twitter released early stage results it drummed up with TV- and media-ratings company Nielsen, estimating Twitter users exposed to TV campaigns – and who engaged with promoted content – reported 95% higher message association and 58% higher purchase intent. It has since tied tweets back to TV ratings.

Whether or not there’s money to be made with Twitter’s TV moves ultimately will depend upon attribution, said Ryan Bonifacino, VP of digital strategy for retail brand Alex and Ani. “The question is, ‘Can Twitter form the right partnerships with attribution providers ... to provide real-time value? I think they can.” Other data-driven partnerships between Twitter and Datalogix, for example, are beginning to attribute paid Tweets to in-store sales for some early CPG clients.

With Twitter’s move to acquire Bluefin and Trendrr in order to apply viewer data to execute media campaigns in real-time, one remaining question whether more buy-ups will come the crowded social TV space.

According to new data from venture-capital database CB Insights, social TV startups have raised a little more than $118 million spread across 46 deals since the outset of 2012. Investments and deal activity are shrinking, not growing, which could suggest Twitter is sucking the oxygen from the room.

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Though “social TV” is comprised of a number of categories, ranging from TV content and discovery to data/analytics, social TV enablement and TV marketing, venture-capital funding to the space as a whole has dropped 62% year-over-year, with deal activity falling 30%, as reported in a Q2 report. In the first quarter of 2012, there was a “brief spike in funding behind several follow-on deals,” including Viggle’s acquisition of AdaptiveBlue (the maker of GetGlue), according to CB Insights.

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