Twitter Talks Up Its Starring Role in Entertainment

Twitter is unmatched in terms of the exposure and interest it attracts throughout the entertainment industry. At CES, Twitter execs explained how its data enables smarter decisions and transforms business practices, in the media world and beyond.

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Credit: Marisa Allegra Williams

Whenever news breaks, a TV show premieres or an anticipated film hits the big screen, marketers look to Twitter first to promote, share thoughts and engage with consumers. 

Despite all of the challenges facing Twitter, the platform is unmatched in terms of the exposure and interest it attracts throughout the media and entertainment industries. The company methodically engages the most socially active celebrities, artists and media powerhouses, and it has convinced them to turn to Twitter first.

The challenge for Twitter is in realizing worthy value from its efforts.

Twitter says it can increase value by funneling its treasure trove of data into the hands of marketing strategists, advertisers and media companies. However, with more than half a billion tweets posted every day — forming the largest archive of human thought ever created, at least according to the company — the data can be overwhelming, and the company needs to deliver insights that enable smarter decisions.  

[Related News Analysis: IBM Taps Twitter's Data to Drive Business Insights]

"The excitement around what's going on in entertainment can sometimes be overwhelming when we think about all the data that's available to us," Kirstine Stewart, vice president of North American media partnerships at Twitter, said this week at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). "We are working together to try to unlock some of this information." 

Twitter Is About the Who, When and Where 

"It's important to remember that tweets are not just the 140 characters," says Chris Moody, Twitter's vice president of data strategy, who also spoke at CES. Details on the person who posted the tweets, when and where they originated from, and who eventually saw them, are equally relevant, Moody says.

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Chris Moody, Twitter's vice president of data strategy, at the 2015 International CES.

"We think we can make every business decision better by having that as an input," Moody says, reiterating a relatively new business-oriented theme for the company. 

[Related Slideshow: 9 New Twitter Features and Tweaks Coming in 2015]

Twitter's push into the enterprise is still in its infancy, so it's clear why the company focused its attentions on media and entertainment at CES. The massive event, which brings most of Las Vegas to a standstill at the start of each year, is all about consumer technology and products. 

Twitter Data Gets a Raise

David Herrin, head of research at the United Talent Agency (UTA), says Twitter's role in the entertainment industry is far greater than a mere delivery system for content. Social media's impact on the box office has been debated for years, but Herrin is convinced that it's finally turning the tide. 

UTA uses Twitter analytics to measure projected box office returns based on the performance of a film's social campaign for the 365 days leading up to its release.

[Related News Analysis: How Twitter Helps Serial Podcast Grow Its Audience]

The agency, which represents high-profile clients including Paul Giamatti, Don Cheadle and Uma Thurman, started using Twitter data in 2011, mostly to provide raw numbers to its clients and movie studios.

Hollywood agents "earned a reputation for being gunslingers" that shoot from the hip, but "we really do rely on data now," according to Brent Weinstein, UTA's head of digital media.

Twitter's data also recently provided UTA the ammo it needed to demand a pay increase for a client who stars in a hit TV show. Without naming names, Weinstein says the studio argued that the client was a co-lead, not the lead character, but Twitter's data proved otherwise.

"This is a really powerful thing," Weinstein says.

Twitter's Moody agrees and says he sees a clear transformation in the way Twitter works with media companies. "As an industry we've been really good at talking. We like monologues. It's now a dialogue."

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