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Twitter launches Amplify and its attempt to target TV ads in the stream

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With the jockeying for TV ad dollars heating up, Twitter is vying for a piece of that pie, and to that end announced the launch of Twitter Amplify today.

We got a hint of this earlier in the year. ESPN used Twitter to highlight clips from every March Madness game this year and made sure that fans didn’t miss out on the best parts of every game. Curiously at the time, if you were following the ESPN Twitter account, you would have recognized the pre-roll Ford ads that streamed prior to each clip. What you saw there was a snippet of ad space that Twitter sold to Ford at the time.

While it  might sound strange, recognize that video ads in social networks are something we probably need to start expecting – and at least Twitter’s version aren’t as intrusive as the ads that reportedly will automatically play three times a day on Facebook.

We also can’t forget that Twitter, brand-wise, is drawing itself closer and closer to anything related to television programming. Tweets are now being monitored and tracked by Nielsen’s TV Ratings to scrape metrics about the number of people talking about any given TV program. To further close the gap between Twitter and TV, Twitter accompanied today’s Amplify announcement with the debut of TV ad targeting.

Using TV ad targeting, brands on Twitter will get access to an analytics dashboard that will show when and where the brand’s TV ad aired in the United States. There’s no indication that there will be support offered to brands from countries outside of the U.S. for now.

Twitter is able to track ads using a video-detection algorithm thanks to its acquisition of Bluefin Labs, which works by monitoring all the television ads that run on TV using a “video fingerprinting technology.” Knowing when and where the brand’s TV spot aired may help brands to prepare marketing teams for Twitter marketing campaigns like Promoted Tweets. At the same time, Twitter’s TV ad targeting dashboard displays what users tweeted about the TV show in which the ad aired around.

As a testament to Twitter’s popularity as a TV viewing accompaniment, Twitter product manager Michael Fleischman revealed a few figures. 32 million U.S. users tweeted about TV programming last year, and as many as 64 percent of Twitter mobile users were watching a television program with Twitter in hand.

If 16 new partners to its Amplify program signal anything, it’s that the service is already standing on solid ground. In addition to partnerships with BBC America, FOX, Fuse, and The Weather Channel, the social network has announced partnerships with A&E, Bloomberg, the PGA Tour, and 13 others.

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