Twitter’s TV Ad Targeting Uses ‘Video Fingerprinting’

New system could boost Promoted Tweets' effectiveness

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Twitter today announced a new program designed to help brands sync up television ads and Promoted Tweets through the use of a cutting-edge "video fingerprinting" technology.

Via a data dashboard, digital marketers can see in real time when their spots air and what resulting tweet activity occurs about either the brand or TV show. Then, at least in theory, they can more intelligently target Twitter users with Promoted Tweets based on who tweeted about the commercial or show. Per the San Francisco-based firm, marketers can use the data to inform not only the timeliness of their Promoted Tweets but also the creative (e.g., copy, GIFs, Vine, etc.). 

The tech giant said the system is available to a small number of partners currently running TV commercials in the United States. A video posted by Twitter (watch below) suggests Trident gum is one of the testing brands.

In a blog post this morning, Twitter credited the February acquisition of Bluefin Labs for enabling the program as well as its "TV Ads" dashboard. Twitter said its video fingerprinting technology detects when and where a brand's commercials are running on TV.

According to the post by Michael Fleischman, Twitter product manager for revenue, the program doesn't require advertisers "to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details. Whenever a commercial airs during a TV show, Twitter not only determines where and when it ran, but can identify users on Twitter who tweeted about the program where the ad aired during that program. We believe a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it very likely saw the commercials as well."

Meanwhile, Twitter today also unveiled new broadcast partnerships with BBC America, Fox, Fuse and The Weather Channel, enabling the media firms to promote television clips on the social platform. Twitter has been testing the program, now formally dubbed Twitter Amplify, in recent weeks with ESPN and Turner.

The pair of moves—both the video fingerprinting for brands and the Amplify product for TV networks, mark the latest in Twitter's aggressive push to become the default social companion to TV. It seems clear that Twitter sees an opportunity to put distance between itself and Facebook on this front.

To see the full list of Twitter Amplify partners, click here.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.