Our ability to help ambitious companies challenge the status quo and persuade entire industries to change the way they operate is amply demonstrated by the breakthrough campaign we pulled off for technology upstart Blurrt – we well and truly captivated their marketplace over the Christmas break in 2013!
“We’ve a great working relationship – real chemistry. Together, we plan to achieve ambitious targets and the results speak for themselves.”
– Jason Smith, Managing Director at Blurrt
The message was falling on deaf ears
Just when was it that Twitter became everyone’s favourite platform for loud and public conversations around just about everything? In 2012, Blurrt found a way to weave together zillions of related conversational threads, cleverly extracting a coherent portrait of Twitter sentiment on any subject. For instance, how consumers are feeling about big brands, or voters about big issues? Or what about how TV audiences are feeling about the programmes they’re watching?
Cohesive called in to create some cut through
Blurrt asked for our help in creating and launching a campaign aimed at getting TV producers, broadcasters and distributors excited about the possibilities of using Twitter and Blurrt’s technology to provide an accurate yet simple way to gauge the emotional impact of specific programmes.
An industry set in its ways
TV audiences are not shy about expressing their opinions and sharing their feelings on social media. But Twitter isn’t a platform that broadcasters instinctively understand or trust. For years they have relied on the figures supplied by the Broadcasters’ Audience Review Board (BARB). These provided viewing numbers for specific programmes but not much else.
Whilst the BARB figures are solely about pairs of eyeballs, the Blurrt intelligence is both quantitative and qualitative. By analysing conversations on Twitter you can find out what filled audiences with surprise, irritation, delight and disappointment. What characters were most liked, or disliked. Which moment, issue or character was the most talked about. And how people viewed their favourite content – whether live, or on watchback.
So, Blurrt offered valuable, unique insights that were simply not available before. But we needed to demonstrate these benefits in a way that would get TV producers, broadcasters and distributors excited about the possibilities of using the platform to provide effective “sentiment analysis” – an accurate yet simple way to gauge the emotional impact of specific programmes.
Getting the story straight
We started the project by conducting research which confirmed that, despite advances in interactive and online broadcasting, broadcasters were uncertain how best to capitalise on the twin phenomena of ‘second screens’ and ‘social TV’. Our research also indicated that pushing the technical features of the product, its clever algorithms, custom dictionaries, and the way it provided privileged access to the Twitter ‘fire hose’ was unlikely to get their attention. We decided to focus on the benefit of this technical wizardry – the fact that the platform provided them with a simple yet powerful means of measuring audience reaction and getting to the heart of what people truly felt about particular programmes. We summed this proposition up with a new tagline: ‘Now you can handle the truth’.
It’s the way we tell them
Next we analysed the Twitter conversation surrounding an unconventional Christmas head-to-head between two reality TV shows. Both followed a “Day in the life of…” format, but with two different stars – Peter Andre and Gary Barlow. Both were also broadcast at 9pm on the 23rd of December. We gathered up the audience reactions, analysed the results and expressed the findings in the form of an eye-catching infographic and blog post.
We then pitched The Guardian and drew their attention to the blog. Why The Guardian? Because they always devote considerable coverage to the Christmas TV ratings battles and attract intense interest from broadcasters, production companies and distributors.
The Guardian journalists were intrigued. Especially when they saw the results of the analysis we delivered to them on the 27th of December. We proved, without doubt, that the BARB ratings were only providing a very limited picture – and one that was very misleading. BBC1’s ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ topped the BARB ratings, but could manage no better than sixth place in terms of positive viewer sentiment. The top spot by that measure was taken by ITV’s ‘Downton Abbey’, ranked only 7th by BARB. Most surprisingly, a mini-episode of the BBC cult show ‘Sherlock’ was ranked third by the Twitter audience but went undetected in the traditional analysis, because it had been made available exclusively on-demand.
Making headlines, creating waves
The Guardian then ran an article under the headline “Downton Abbey sparked biggest Christmas Day buzz on Twitter”. This provided a ringing endorsement of the value provided by Blurrt’s social sentiment analysis, creating a huge spike in web traffic to the Blurrt website.
The article was also heavily shared on social channels, particularly @mediaguardian (with over 450k followers) and on journalist Mark Sweeney’s personal Twitter feed. Buoyed by reads and comments, the story remained top of page one on Guardian Media for three days.
A name to conjure with
This campaign proved a major turning point for Blurrt, achieving instant and lasting name recognition for the company amongst executives from the UK television industry. In turn this has opened doors to lots of positive business conversations for Blurrt.
The company is now an acknowledged leader in the field of sentiment analysis. Notable successes include the fact that LBC used the Blurrt platform to become the first UK broadcaster to feature live Twitter sentiment during the course of a political debate. Their ‘Twitter Worm‘ has also been used by the Sun newspaper to provide exciting live feedback during the Scottish Referendum debates.