ESPN and Twitter Ad Program Links Social to TV

ESPN and Twitter are creating an advertising program, the companies announced on Tuesday. Campaigns will be distributed via Twitter and the ABC/ESPN television and online sports properties, the firms said.

The 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. The partnership will begin immediately with the NBA playoffs currently taking place, but no advertisers have been revealed.

The first iteration appears to be house ads. According to the press release, fans will be encouraged during upcoming NBA game telecasts to tweet photos with the hashtag “#GameFace.”

However, prepared statements from company execs definitely point to ad dollars.

“Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports,” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s VP of global brand strategy. “It’s the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN’s premier content across screens and where the conversation is happening on Twitter.”

Ed Erhardt, an ESPN marketing and sales exec, said, “Advertisers and marketers have been asking for meaningful opportunities that tap into the power of social media. We know fans use ESPN and Twitter as their main source for content and connectivity…. It also gives our clients a tremendous opportunity to own the conversation with us around major sport holidays.”

The companies unveiled the development at ESPN’s Upfront presentation for advertisers in New York this morning.