20110321 xfactor 54
A young boy holds up his arms in an X as contestants welcome the judges during the first day of auditions for series 4 X Factor at Arsenal Emirates Stadium on June 9, 2007 in London, England. - 

Steve Chiotakis: The Fox TV show The X-Factor has been struggling in the ratings this season. So tonight, producers are launching an experiment with social media in an effort to attract viewers and hopefully more ad revenue.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: Starting tonight, fans of the "X Factor" will have more to tweet about than judge Simon Cowell's hijinks.

Simon Cowell: Have you ever performed in public before?

Now, viewers may be able to vote for contestants on the show using direct Twitter messages.

Carl Howe: This is just the next step.

Carl Howe of market research firm Yankee Group says this type of interactivity was pioneered by another show that featured Simon Cowell: "American Idol." That show allows viewers to call, text and vote online.

Howe: Making it interactive is a way to really bind the viewer to the show.

And with Twitter, potentially connect them with marketers. Twitter forces users to keep their thoughts short and to the point. And Howe says that makes it easy for advertisers to target users.

And it may be gold for Fox. Barry Libert is the author of "Social Nation."

Barry Libert: Because if they're capturing my Twitter handle, they'll be able to contact me and see if I want to engage in other shows they might be running.

And 13 million viewers -- that's something to tweet about.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.