Twitter's take on TV: 'We make it better'

Twitter's Kevin Weil speaks out on the company's TV advertising efforts

Twitter, with an IPO looming, needs to make money. To do that, a key focus is being placed on advertising and promoted content around television, the company signaled on Tuesday.

Twitter offers two advertising products geared around TV: TV ad targeting, which lets advertisers place tweets in users' feeds when they tweet about TV; and Amplify, which pairs video content with ads from select broadcasters.

Those products will be a key element in the company's efforts to turn a profit in the years ahead.

"We really believe that Twitter and TV are complementary platforms, and we can make the TV experience better with Twitter," said Kevin Weil, VP of revenue products at Twitter.

"Twitter makes TV better, and TV makes Twitter better," the executive said, speaking Tuesday at the Ad Age Digital Conference in San Francisco, an event that drew hundreds of advertising executives from across the country.

Combining Twitter with TV, he said, "is an area we've really been focusing on at the company."

Twitter's sales are strong but the company is losing money, its recent IPO documents revealed.

The social network generated revenue of US$317 million in 2012, almost three times what it made in 2011. But the company also posted a net loss of $79 million last year, and a loss of $128 million the year before that.

Advertising comprised 85 percent of Twitter's total sales in 2012.

Conversations abound on Twitter around innumerable topics, but lately the company has taken an interest in monetizing digital chatter around TV. By becoming a "second screen" to traditional TV programming, the site hopes that users will engage more with advertising content if it is delivered to them while they are already tweeting about shows.

Recent data from Nielsen suggests that Twitter might be on the right track. Over the past two years more people in the U.S. are using Twitter to talk about shows, according to the research company.

Twitter has looked to other companies to help it build out its TV-related advertising products. Its acquisition of Bluefin Labs, for instance, was aimed to incorporate more social data into sponsored content.

"We saw an opportunity to build a great TV targeting product," Weil said of that acquisition.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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