2012 Media Summit TV Panel: Twitter, Facebook Can Drive Online Audience, Revenue


At a conference, managers from CBS Corp., ABC News and other companies also say there is more growth upside in tablets and apps.

NEW YORK - Social media can these days drive TV networks' online audience and revenue, Marc DeBevoise, senior vp and general manager, entertainment, CBS Interactive, said here at a conference on Wednesday. 

During a panel at the 2012 Media Summit New York, produced by Digital Hollywood, he said that 15 percent-20 percent of online traffic to CBS.com is typically generated from social media mentions that the network and its shows post along with links back to the site. 

This makes Twitter and Facebook a key new source of traffic behind direct Web visitors.

On one recent day, a little more than 40 percent of CBS.com's 
more than 1 million visitors came back from social media posts, including one that included a link to an episode of How I Met Your Mother that showed protagonist Ted telling Robin that he loves her, DeBevoise said.

This proves that social media can help content companies boost their reach rather than drive away audience attention, he argued. "It's driving revenue now," he explained.  

Asked about advertising rates online, DeBevoise said that on a per-viewer basis, they are in the same ballpark as broadcast rates these days, but absolute figures are still much smaller.

ABC News senior vp, digital media Joe Ruffolo said on the panel that Twitter helps news and media organizations to keep their name in play, but there is also "a lot of story telling to be done based on trending" for news operations. "We want to integrate that more into our coverage," he said, suggesting that social media posts from viewers could be used as the basis for follow-up questions in political debates, for example.

Asked about the outlook for tablet computers and TV apps on mobile devices, DeBevoise said: "It's by no way mature. It's not about number of apps, but audience...There's plenty of growth."

Ruffolo said brands are key in determining the success of apps and tablet use of media brands.

 Echoed DeBevoise: "Brand is going to matter, talent is going to matter, what you put in there is going to matter."

Jeffrey Thompson, vp, entertainment digital strategy and business development at Conde Nast Entertainment, also argued that tablet usage is still "a toddler." With 70 percent of tablet use currently in homes, there is upside for outdoor use, he said.

But panelists agreed that not all apps work. On a panel later in the day, Daniel Tibbets, senior vp, digital media, Bunim/Murray Productions, echoed that sentiment.
He argued that the Oscar companion app worked, but a Pirates of the Caribbean 4 app offers too much complex content. "Trying to do too much at once doesn't work," he said. "It has [more of] an after-DVD, extras [feel]."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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