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Facebook Inc. to Sell Your Conversations to TV Networks Every Week


Bad news for Twitter, which may now have to prove that its audience can be as broad and representative as Facebook's.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will send weekly reports to TV networks on users' conversations about their shows. This should worry the folks at Twitter as it prepares to go public.

This week, Facebook says that it will offer networks a snapshot of users' chatter, likes, shares and comments about TV shows to gauge how much buzz a show produces.

You won't be able to read these reports, but people at ABC (NYSE:DIS), NBC (NYSE:GE), Fox (NYSE:NWS), and CBS (NYSE:CBS) will. Private conversations will also be made anonymous and presented in aggregate to protect users' privacy.
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This is really valuable stuff for advertisers. The gold standard for a show's reach is traditionally ratings, but ratings don't tell you how much people are actually engaging with or dedicated to the programs. This new information will help advertisers determine the value of an ad spot. Facebook has already begun working to cement its position as the go-to social data provider for TV networks by aggregating public newsfeed information to partners such as CNN.

See also: Social Media: Why It's the Next Bubble to Burst

The value of Facebook's reports are limited, however, according to the Wall Street Journal. For example, the reports have the potential to generate false positives. The paper gives the example of the CBS show NCIS, which get a lot of mentions because the string of letters "ncis" is embedded in the word "San Francisco."

(Reminds us of the issue with Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) versus Anne Hathaway mentions on Twitter. Robotraders reportedly found the two confusing.)

This puts Facebook head to head against Twitter, which has previously teamed up with Nielsen Ratings for the "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" to give advertisers a more social look at how much activity television shows get. It also has a deal to place CBS clips into users' Twitter feeds. Providing real-time TV-related data is also a sizable plank in Twitter's revenue plans as it prepares to debut on the public markets before Thanksgiving.

There could be room for both Facebook and Twitter serving TV stations and other advertisers. Facebook has a vastly wider user base that skews young, but not by as much as the competition. Twitter users are also more likely to be city dwellers, black, or Hispanic, according to Pew Research Center. The Facebook crowd might also be more representative, and not as tech-savvy, which some TV providers might prefer.

With recent revelations that the National Security Agency is doing much more with your Facebook data than imagined, more advertising and data sharing probably won't send users away.

More from Minyanville:

From Jocks to Stocks: Four Football Types Who Scored Big in Business

With CBS and the NFL, Twitter Takes First Steps Into TV Advertising

Apple Inc. Whips iPhone Users With Their Own Third-Party Cables

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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