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This case study tries to identify the value of Bluefin Labs' social listening data to internet company Twitter. Additionally, the implications of social TV viewing, the engagement that results when humans watch TV with a mobile device in hand, participating in a community of TV watchers.
John Deighton; Leora Kornfeld
Harvard Business Review (513091-PDF-ENG)
June 24, 2013
Case questions answered:
- Do you ever tweet, text, or email while watching television? If so, why? What motivates people to participate in social TV?
- Dave Poltrack refers to Bluefin Labs' data as a deep dive and SocialGuide’s as a more summary picture. What features of data collection and analysis make Bluefin Labs a deep dive? What are the pros and cons of Bluefin’s “deep dive” data for its clients
- Why did Twitter buy Bluefin Labs? Was it wise for Twitter to shut down sales of Bluefin’s product suite? What do you advise Twitter to do with Bluefin’s capabilities?
- Do you ever tweet, text, or email while watching TV? If so, why? What motivates people to participate in social TV?
- Whether you do or not, it seems 40 million Americans do. Are their conversations representative of TV viewers? If not, are the data valuable to TV networks? Are they valuable to media buyers? To brand marketers?
- Dave Poltrack refers to Bluefin’s data as a deep dive and Social Guide’s as a more summary picture. What features of the Bluefin Labs system of data collection and analysis make it a deep dive?
- Why did Twitter buy Bluefin Labs? What might it do withBluefin’s capabilities? Was it wise to shut down sales of its product suite sales?
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Case answers for Bluefin Labs: The Acquisition by Twitter
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Summary – Bluefin Labs: The Acquisition by Twitter:
In this case, we are introduced to Bluefin Labs, which is a social listening company that collects data from social platforms, mainly Twitter, to measure viewer engagement with the content presented on television. From the knowledge derived from this social data, Bluefin became a powerhouse in tying social conversation to various TV programs, and thus were attracting serious attention as it could serve both advertisers and broadcasters with a variety of in-detail analysis and insights.
Some examples of their work include being able to infer viewer demographics through channel analysis, brand expressions, advertisement interpretations, and ad effectiveness. Through all of this impressive analytics, Twitter noticed Bluefin and decided to acquire them in an attempt to beef up their social metrics and evaluation. However, there were questions of what value Bluefin Labs could actually provide, as well as whether Bluefin, now a property of Twitter, would continue to perform objective research and analytics, or whether it would just be a puppet of their parent company.
Do you ever tweet, text, or email while watching television? If so, why? What motivates people to participate in social TV?
The second-screen experience has become a huge part of my generation in terms of content consumption and engagement. You even see it at live events (sports, concerts, etc.) as well, as lapses in action or pivotal moments garner a need to interact with social platforms.
Personally, I almost always use a second device when consuming TV, often tweeting, texting, emailing, and viewing simultaneously. When I am watching a baseball game, for example, I will often scroll through Twitter and favorite Tweets, as baseball is a rather slow sport and I can invest a little more time in social activities during breaks in the action. If I am watching an award show, for example, I am more likely to actually produce content and respond as those events are typically controversial, but contrast that to sports, and I am more of a passive consumer.
The reason I even turn to a second-screen is mainly for information seeking purposes, as most current TV broadcasts are too mass-marketed and don’t contain niche information I like to see. In these cases, Twitter and Facebook can provide the “color” commentary to the basic info I get from the actual broadcast. Sometimes, TV is just not stimulating enough and I feel obligated to consult a computer or phone to keep stimulated, like during commercial breaks or otherwise underwhelming shows.
I believe in general, people participate in social TV as a means of being connected and interacting with others, especially in this “sharing” culture in which we live. Apps and devices are meant to be used, so creating a further enriched experience while watching TV makes sense.
This augmented experience is not only cultivated by users, but also by the broadcasters, as they will promote their own hashtags or campaigns, for example, to encourage online conversation about their brands. Consumers also don’t want to feel tethered to strictly watching a TV broadcast, sacrificing social life, so having these additional options to merge the two together is a natural fit for viewers, which is why they are active on social media.
Dave Poltrack refers to Bluefin’s data as a deep dive and SocialGuide’s as a more summary picture. What features of data collection and analysis make Bluefin Labs a deep dive? What are the pros and cons of Bluefin’s “deep dive” data for its clients
Bluefin Labs was able to provide incredibly detailed data analysis due to the fact that they were able to create self-correcting machine learning algorithms to hone exactly in on social conversations. Not only that but the…
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