Twitter continues to forge closer ties with the marketing world with the announcement of a major new deal with Publicis media unit Starcom MediaVest Group.
Terms of the deal, the first of its kind between Twitter and a giant media buying and planning entity, aren’t being discussed in detail but it is described as a multiyear agreement worth hundreds of millions of dollars. According to Starcom MediaVest CEO Laura Desmond, the two companies were looking "to create a partnership that would shape the future of the industry."
The deal, first reported by London’s Financial Times, will see SMV’s clients (which include Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Microsoft) gain access to preferred inventory and pricing and first looks at new products. But, according to Desmond, the heart of the deal was more about the decision to cocreate three major initiatives.
The first is a social TV lab: "Our team and Bluefin Labs (which Twitter purchased earlier this year) will come together, put mutual skin in game, and create a social TV lab that we think will give our clients unprecedented real-time data on how consumers are watching, buying and the conversations that amplify brand messages."
Second, an in-tweet mobile survey— "real-time dipstick measurement of what people are watching and thinking and doing," says Desmond—that will yield data that can be used to shape messaging.
Third, Twitter will open up its API to feed SMV’s proprietary planning and modeling products. "What that means," says Desmond, "is our plans will be informed by the consumer-trend data that we see from Twitter by audience segment. It also means we can make better marketing-mix decisions," better determining ROI on paid, owned, and earned media decisions.
Desmond says the deal comes in the wake of two years of working hands-on with Twitter. She points to a number of major campaigns that have incorporated Twitter, including the launch of Windows 8 and Samsung Galaxy, and several P&G projects, including one for Tide in which the brand became a trending topic on Twitter after an oil spill during a NASCAR event.
Last fall, she says, she sat down with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to discuss "where we see the future of the marketplace." They had what she calls like-minded ideas around the dynamic between Twitter and TV and "the idea that the digital marketplace is moving from ad exchange and targeting and re-targeting to, while still including those things, much more toward creating real-time content and experiences."
It’s a huge endorsement from the marketing world of Twitter’s strengths as a brand platform. "The interesting [thing] about Twitter," says Desmond, "is that it has the ability to engage people and have them participate in meaningful and relevant ways to them." Desmond says SMV sees Twitter not as a media silo in itself but a platform that extends across paid, owned, and earned media. "If you think the future of marketing is convergence and amplification of big moments over time, as we do, then Twitter becomes one of the essential channels you have to evaluate in any marketing plan."
[Image: Flickr user Bùi Linh Ngân]