02/06/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Twitter: TV's Best Friend?

By Noah Nelson

Time for the latest buzz about Twitter, the company.

Let's start with Mathew Ingram over at GigaOM:

According to a number of anonymous reports, Twitter is in the process of buying Bluefin Labs, an analytics company that specializes in broadcast media -- an acquisition that would be its largest ever. Although the news hasn't been confirmed by either party, a Bluefin deal fits the trajectory that Twitter has been on for some time now: namely, a focus on television as a key partner for the real-time information network.

Now Bluefin's whole bag is being slicing and dicing the big data generated by social media in order to give brands a sense of how they're being talked about online. Think real-time Nielsen ratings, only with a self-selecting data set.

Ingram sees this and the way that Twitter has been cozying up to television networks-- remember the Olympics last year-- as a sign that the social media company is "becoming a handmaiden to traditional television".

There's a relationship here, sure, but I don't see these ties as limiting Twitter. If anything they are part of a concerted effort on the company's part to widen its active user base by attaching itself to something familiar. In the first days of the service, early adopters had a hard time explaining just what the hell Twitter was for. As time went on, we figured out all kinds of novel uses.

The pitch "it's where you go to talk about the Oscars with everybody" is easy to digest.

Meanwhile, a big lab of analytics that Twitter can sell to companies willing to pay for the insight is the best way to keep the service from becoming clogged with stupid, ugly Facebook style advertising. Are there entirely creepy uses for those kinds of analytics? Sure. Which is why everyone should remember to never put anything out on the Internet that they don't want haunting them forever.

What I'd really like to see is Twitter get in the business of offering up this kind of data at reasonable prices to content makers of all stripes (read: everyone). The power in the platform is in finding your audience, your "tribe", however you want to put it. This is Twitter's core business, and I hope to Kibo they know that and don't try to make me retweet a Pepsi ad.

Originally published on, a digital information service surfacing emerging stories in news, entertainment, art and culture; powered by award-winning journalists.

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