On the heels of his ratings-topping appearance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Justin Timberlake chose to extend his run on the late-night TV circuit with a weeklong gig on the network's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
But if the goal was to drive chatter and excitement around new album "The 20/20 Experience," Timberlake might have gotten a bigger bump if he'd chosen to be on "Conan" instead, according to data from Next Big Sound, a digital data-tracking firm that focuses on the music industry.
Just how big is the "Conan" bump? To find out, the New York research group analyzed data from hundreds of artist appearances on seven late-night shows going back to 2009.
A gig on TBS' "Conan" boosted Facebook likes by 73% on average, Twitter followers by 95% and Wikipedia searches by 175% the day after the show, according to Next Big Sound. Appearances on "Fallon" yielded more modest results--a 31% increase on Facebook, 82% on Twitter and 91% on Wikipedia.
"Saturday Night Live" also scored highly, with artists earning a gain of 51% on Facebook, 77% on Twitter and 298% on Wikipedia. No wonder Timberlake has chosen to be on the weekly comedy show five different times during his career, including twice with then--"SNL" cast member Fallon.
Of the four social media platforms monitored in Next Big Sound's survey, YouTube was the least susceptible to the late-night effect. "One explanation is that videos of performances are typically published the following day, but can be found on the official channels for the shows as opposed to those of the performers," says Next Big Sound data journalist Liv Buli, who notes that her firm only counts video plays on an artist's channel, not a show's channel.
Boosts to social media mentions are nice for building fan bases, but how well do late-night appearances translate to sales? Artists who appeared on "Saturday Night Live" had a 100% increase in iTunes track sales on average the day after their appearance. Those who were on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman," "Conan" or "Fallon" had sales bumps of slightly more than 40%, according to Next Big Sound. Artists who appear on "Conan" on average see a 50% increase in iTunes album sales and Facebook fans, and a 40% increase in traffic to their website. "What makes the impact from 'Conan' even more impressive is that although the show starts 35 minutes earlier than 'Letterman,' 'Leno' and 'Kimmel,' it airs on basic cable as opposed to network," Buli says.
For artists trying to decide which show to target, Buli and her colleagues recommend "Conan," even though the show generally has lower ratings and doesn't yield as big of a sales boost as "Saturday Night Live." Why?
Because "SNL" "airs live only once a week, meaning there are less opportunities for artists to score an appearance," Buli says. "If you had to pick, 'Conan' is your best bet for overall impact."