Facebook's new deal with Turner Broadcasting System, coupled with Twitter's partnership with ESPN last week, signal that cable television and social media players are starting to believe they can help one another attract brand dollars. It appears to be a fair trade: TV gets to offer advertisers data-driven second-screen marketing opportunities, while social gets a chair at the grownups table.
Earlier today, TBS announced it will package Facebook ads within its family of TV and online marketing platforms for brands interested in buying into comedy shorts produced by the DumbDumb company. The latter's creative team, featuring "Arrested Development" actors Jason Bateman (left) and Will Arnett, is creating six three-to-five-minute videos that will be available as branded content through TBS, which promises to push the videos on shows like "Conan" and "Family Guy," as well as through its digital properties such as Adultswim.com and NBA.com. Promotions on TBS' YouTube and Twitter channels are also part of the mix.
According to a source close to the situation, as part of the DumbDumb-related endeavor, brands can choose from multiple packages that offer varying levels of Facebook ad buys. What attracted TBS to include Facebook ads, the source said, was the interest-level targeting available based on the site's social graph data.
Facebook's data has long been attractive to TV channels that have looked to create awareness for new programs. As a theoretical example, marketers have been seeing the value in buying Facebook ads for shows like "Nurse Jackie" while targeting Facebook users who like "The Sopranos," the hit HBO show that gave "Nurse Jackie" star Edie Falco a marquee name.
Now, the same data should appeal to TBS and sister station TNT as they try to sell modern, holistic ad packages. Brands will be able not only to leverage the popularity of actors like Bateman and Arnett in the videos themselves, but they can also target the performers' Facebook fans to create more viewers. The brands could also target more peripherary interest categories, such as comedy fans that have liked FunnyOrDie.com or Comedy Central on Facebook.
According to parent company Turner Entertainment Networks' prepared statements last week for its Upfront presentation, it wants to evolve from "linear television networks into branded video destinations." Steve Koonin, president of the Atlanta-based media firm, pointed to "maximizing multi-screen opportunities" and "an ever-growing media universe" in his company's prepared remarks.
A chief competitor, ESPN, is laying similar social media plans. The company on May 15 announced an advertising program with Twitter. Campaigns will be distributed via Twitter and the ABC/ESPN television and online sports properties, the firms said.
The key idea is to offer brands the ability to connect TV spots to Twitter eyeballs, as sports fans simultaneously watch games and follow each other or professional sportswriters on the social site. And the entities will be able to leverage interest-level data targeting based on who individual Twitter users follow. The partnership began immediately with the NBA playoffs, but no advertisers have been revealed.
Similarly, Turner and Facebook reportedly haven't sold an integrated package yet. It's hard to imagine the firms not getting a bite soon, though, as Facebook has become a fairly normal ad buy for major brands and Turner has sold TV-online packages to advertisers like AT&T and Wendy's for some time.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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