Mar 31, 2014 · 4 minutes

Twitter has extended its partnership with Kantar Media and acquired two social analytics companies -- Mesagraph and SecondSync -- to woo television companies and advertisers.

The terms of each deal were not disclosed, but Mesagraph says in a blog post that its team will be "working closely with TV networks, agencies, advertisers, producers and integrators to help those partners make the most out of Twitter" from Twitter's office in the United Kingdom.

Twitter has long used television companies as a testbed for new features and advertising tools. Its partnership with Kantar was meant to develop Twitter TV measurement standards in the UK and Spain -- now it will expand those efforts to southeast Asia, Russia, and parts of Africa. In October, it announced a feature that allows Twitter users to change the channel, buy movie tickets, or set their DVRs to record movies and television shows mentioned in tweets. The company has previously created tools to help television reporters find tweets for their stories.

Those tools allow Twitter to experiment with features that offer a better experience to existing users, while it attempts to make its platform even more advertiser-friendly. Since the company is struggling to attract new users, introducing new features for the people who already use it -- and then monetizing those users by quantifying them and offering them up to the highest bidder -- might give it some time to continue growing.

Here's what I wrote when Twitter, Comcast, and NBCUniversal partnered to allow Twitter users to purchase movie tickets or record television shows:

Today’s announcement will probably be regarded as a win in Twitter’s fight to convince television networks that its service has become an integral aspect of the modern television experience. Having NBCUniversal sign on as an Amplify customer might also boost the company’s advertising revenues, which could justify the $1 billion Twitter is seeking in its public offering. In that respect, today is all about television.

In the long run, however, these new features will likely be seen as a sign of Twitter’s attempt to make tweets actionable snippets of information instead of passive invitations to ditch the service and roam the wild, wild Web. The partnership and acquisitions announced today will be similar. It's doubtful that the company is going to spend its time on projects that only appeal to one type of advertiser. Instead, it seems clear that Twitter is continuing to use television shows -- which are often discussed on the service, much to the chagrin of people who fall behind on popular shows -- as a sandbox where it can experiment with new partnerships and tools with bigger implications.

In this case, the prospects aren't as exciting as a Twitter where every tweet contains actionable information providing easy access to the rest of the Web. As a public company, Twitter wants to make money so it needs to appeal to advertisers. It may accomplish that by building better tools to quantify what its users like, and eventually using our tweets to advertise anything and everything we might desire. Television isn't Twitter's primary focus -- it's just the stepping stone to bigger projects.

Reactions from around the Web

TechCrunch reports on Twitter's plans for the Kantar Media partnership:

The partnership is also extending beyond TV content and to a new service that Twitter is calling “Data of Now” that will focus on real-time metadata around advertising, consumer insight, brand equity and media measurement. Effectively, this will sit alongside the TV data to provide a “360-degree” picture of the television and advertising landscape. (And when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense since a lot of the response to TV ads can be delayed but also bolstered well after the initial point of delivery.)
The Next Web details SecondSync's relationship with Kantar Media -- and Facebook:
Interestingly, SecondSync received an investment from Kantar Media, which today also announced a new partnership with Twitter in order to bring the social network’s TV ratings to the Nordics, Russia, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Earlier this year, Facebook partnered with SecondSync to give marketers greater insights into how people were talking about TV on the social network. The collaboration started with data for the US and the UK, although it’s unclear how that relationship will proceed after Twitter’s acquisition is completed. Adweek explains Twitter's goals for television-related advertising:

Both acquisitions reflect Twitter’s global ambitions, as the company has been expanding its social TV message overseas.

The platform wants to be the go-to place for television advertisers worldwide as brands look to reach audiences that talk about their favorite shows on Twitter. For its part, Twitter is investing in how to measure the conversation and show how valuable it could be for brands to market there.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas]