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Twitter, Viacom And The Future Of Micro-Blogging

It seems the popular micro-blogging service Twitter has something up its sleeve and is about to make the jump from micro-blogging to a full-fledged media platform.

We know that Twitter is currently in talks with media industry giant Viacom over a deal that could begin in mid-May. The deal would bring TV clips and advertisements to Twitter in exchange for a cut of the ad revenue – reported to be a 50/50 split. Partnering with media giants isn’t new for Twitter. It already has arrangements with The Weather Channel, ESPN and Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), but what Viacom (and a NBC Universal) could bring is some of the most popular content online, such as HULU videos or major sporting events.

Here’s what the deal leads us to believe.

Twitter Feels The Need To Adapt To Thrive

Popular brands grow stale if they fail to adapt. Look no further than online brands such as Myspace or Digg or offline brands such as Blockbuster if you need proof of this phenomenon. Deals with popular content providers keeps users engaged on Twitter, and I can only assume the hope is to drive average time on site to near-Facebook levels by giving users a greater variety of content to interact and engage with.

TV Is Becoming More Social

Consider the recent Nielsen report that proved Twitter to be a good barometer of a television show’s success. So much so that they were able to predict ratings based on tweet “noise” (mentions, RT’s, chats, and brand sentiment). Nielsen even reported that approximately 33-percent of all Twitter users in June of 2012 had tweeted something seen on TV. This was up from 26-percent during the same time last year.

Add to this the growing number of brands utilizing hashtags in commercials, as well as those engaging with users by allowing them to determine outcomes in ads (Budweiser, Verizon, etc.) by input shared on social sites like Twitter and Facebook and you’ll see that the future is in integrated media; both new and traditional.

Twitter Feels A Mixed-Media Approach Will Bolster Ad Revenue And Increase Engagement

With the recent acquisition of the popular startup, “We Are Hunted” – a music discovery site, as well as the launch of their own music app and Vine, it seems that Twitter is poised to turn micro-blogging into a rich mixed media platform featuring not only text, but video, audio and images. This leads most experts in the field to assume their gearing up to take a run at Facebook, but whether or not that comes to fruition, the new types of content shared on Twitter will certainly provide the boost the relatively untested ad platform needs to finally start generating revenue.

As far as taking a run at Facebook, there’s no time better than the present. Reports suggest that Facebook has lost a staggering amount of users in 2012 and that the platform has grown “stale” amongst teens, the biggest users of social media. Twitter – on the other hand – has reported usage doubling during that same time frame. If they’re trying to take down the monster, it seems this could be the time.

While Twitter’s ad platform certainly has potential, the ability to serve ads across multiple formats on-site are going to do nothing but increase the revenue it generates. Add to this the potential targeting possibilities and the future is certainly bright from an ad platform that has taken its deal of criticism in the past.

On a personal level, I think the deal makes a lot of sense. Twitter is using its influence to bring about change in the way media is delivered online. In doing so, they’ll bolster profits on their shaky ad platform and increase engagement amongst average users. I guess the only real question left is; “How are they going to tie it all together?”

I, for one, can’t wait to see the finished product.

Chris Warden is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO. Starting his entrepreneurial career at age 19, he has performed in numerous capacities owning and managing both offline and online companies. Chris now serves as CEO of Spread Effect, a leading content marketing and publishing company. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and often writes on topics of content marketing, SEO, and business development. He’s passionate about building and mentoring world-class teams and loves to chat with like-minded individuals. You can connect with Chris via Linkedin, Twitter - @ChrisWarden_SE, or Google+.

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