IAB UK Digital Upfronts 2018: Twitter reinforces immediate & intimate connection with premium content

Having been a partner of the IAB Digital Upfronts since their inception, Twitter know how to host an engaging session. This year was no different with their #VideoIsHappening event.

The event opened with Head of Agency Sales, Chris Bailes (@Bailesy) highlighting the way the platform considers video content. “Where other platforms believe it’s a “look at me” opportunity, we consider Twitter the “look at this” platform”.
With 76% of users following brands on Twitter and 31% more likely to be the first to buy new products than the online population, this is an important audience for advertisers who can choose to  to sponsor content, or carry out an audience buy.
Following Chris, was Twitter Head of Key Accounts, Lucy McHenry (@lucymchenry), who highlighted the sheer scale of Twitter audience activity that is related to TV viewing.  With 63% of Twitter users using the platform whilst watching TV, this goes some way to explain why so far this year there have been 36m tweets about TV in the UK alone - equating to almost 2 per second. McHenry commented “Twitter has become today’s water cooler moment – these conversations are happening in real time, on Twitter”.
This insight led nicely into the introduction of the two hosts of the brand-new Twitter show, #What2Watch, which is being produced in partnership with Buzzfeed UK. The show will broadcast live from Buzzfeed HQ and feature hosts Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) and Scott Bryan (@scottygb) providing reviews, recaps, games and celebrity interviews, all focused around the latest linear and non-linear TV.
Grant and Bryan treated attendees to a sneak peek of some upcoming content, including Dr Who, Top Emojis and the TV shows Greenleaf and Skamltalia, before concluding with a panel discussion with Buzzfeed UK Commercial Director, Brant McLean (@areaofrefuge).
Interestingly, the genus of the idea for the show actually came from a conversation on Twitter. Bryan had asked his followers “Why are there shows that review films but no TV shows that regularly review TV?...”. To which he received the response from @_ikkin_ “Why don’t you do and run it on Twitter? Make it a Twitter hosted show. This is where people come to talk about TV anywhere...” And the rest, as they say, is history.
As with other Twitter advertising products, brands can carry out a variety of sponsorships or audience buys, and even product placement. The show airs later this autumn.
Providing further context for how Twitter fits alongside premium content, Twitter Content Sales Lead, Lee LeBorge (@leebo) focused on sport and highlighted the 950 Global sponsorship partners, including Sky Sports, Wimbledon and the Olympics, amongst many others, distributing their video content on the platform.
In particular, LeBorge highlighted the level of engagement around football, which is the #1 most tweeted topic in the UK – ahead of UK places, TV shows, UK politics and musical artists. Staggeringly, there were 115 billion tweet impressions during the 2018 World Cup.
LeBorge ended his presentation with an interview he clearly relished, introducing football legend  – Phil Thompson (@Phil_Thompson4). The Soccer Saturday presenter gave an entertaining recap of his career and touched on his use of Twitter, before LeBorge concluded by announcing a recently signed two-year deal that gives Twitter Premier League highlights rights through the 2020 season.
The evening concluded with Twitter Head of Account Sales, Monica Manoras (@moni_natasha) focusing on another huge area of conversation on Twitter – Entertainment. 
Manoras gave some amazing stats on one of this year’s hottest TV shows - #LoveIsland. 

  • The launch of the show on ITV2 saw it attract 2.9m viewers. 

  • On Twitter there were 2.5bn video views 

  • 1.2m Tweet authors publishing 11.2m tweets.

The IAB Digital Upfronts hosts delighted many in the audience by then introducing the 2018 winner of Love Island, Jack Fincham (@jack_charlesf) to the stage, along with ITV Senior Digital Producer, Kenny England (@knny). When asked how he felt since winning Love Island, Fincham quipped that it was life changing and “popping to Tesco for a Meal Deal can now take over an hour”.
Commenting on the social media production schedules for a show like Love Island, England said
“Twitter takes more time than the rest of the platforms as it has such an engaged audience. You need to feed that audience”.
Asked how Twitter informs the social strategy of these types of shows, England explained that the Executive Producers who work on ‘Quick Turnaround Shows’ receive daily social media updates after every show on what the audience thought. “This wouldn’t be possible if you were airing a live show, or if the entire series was already in the can, when there’s nothing you can do.”

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