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Twitter and Starcom CEOs talk collaboration

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The massive deal Twitter struck with ad agency Starcom Media Group in April was a key coming-of-age moment for the social media giant, guaranteeing hundreds of millions in advertising dollars in exchange for plum advertising spots for Starcom clients.

The goal was to share information to enable experimentation with a new format.

On Monday, about eight months later, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke with Starcom Media Group CEO Laura Desmond via Skype at Starcom's annual webcast, a conversation that I moderated.

(Read more: Twitter's new 'tailored audiences' seeks you out)

Starcom's Desmond said she was willing to commit to a long-term plan because of the "chance to help influence a product road map as well as have our product roadmap influenced." The idea, she said, was to "put skin in the game around research and trying to understand people better," and to have a relationship that would give Starcom a first look at the things Twitter was doing.

So how has the partnership gone?

"There's been a tremendous influence on how we think about our product roadmap," Costolo said.

For instance, Costolo noted that Twitter's Amplify ad product was "very much a result" of a discussion Costolo and Desmond had before Twitter acquired Bluefin, as the social network began to explore what it could do with its broadcast partners. "Our work with [Starcom] very much informed what Twitter Amplify became, and we now have it rolled out to dozens and dozens of partners."

Another influence is found in how the companies plan far ahead for their mutual clients, as they work together to make the most of that client's investment in TV ads.

(Read more: Twitter's future—beyond ads, here's what's next)

And according to Costolo this is just the beginning: "I think that you'll see more and more, content partners and marketers understand not just how to surround the TV experience with a presence on twitter, but to amplify the live experience with a very complementary integrated experience on Twitter." He pointed to some examples of what Twitter has done to make live sports, and reality shows such as 'The Voice' more engaging.

"We will have a massive first quarter with the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, the NCAA tournament, and a bunch of other big tentpole events," Desmond said, looking to next year.

"The early results of this lab show that when you connect mass media, especially television with Twitter, you're able to see lift across engagement, across awareness, across consideration and intent," she added. It's not just about building awareness and conversation and buzz, Desmond said – it comes down to driving sales. "Our clients want to know that it's working. They want to know how it's working relative to other platforms they could be using."

(Read more: Twitter's ambitions: #ChangeWorld #MakeMoney)

In addition to working together on ad products, Costolo and Desmond also share a management, with a similar focus on structuring the company to encourage innovation.

"I always tell my managers, make sure everybody understands what you understand. Make sure everybody has context for why decisions have been made," Costolo said. "Then people understand how to be efficient and productive and innovative in what they're doing, and they understand how that innovation and productivity maps to the success of the broader company."

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.