We can all agree that Nielsen’s model of ranking television is woefully dated. This antiquated notion of sampling individual families and asking them to log what they watch and when they watch it. All of this fantastic technology, you’d think by now there would be a way for users to opt-in to a piece of software which can be run as an app on a DVR or TIVO. Alas, we still don’t have that, but Nielsen is trying to take some steps to track the popularity of content moving forward.
Their preferred platform to watch? Twitter.
Now I’m not saying this is a bad idea. Twitter has shown a terrific aptitude for being culturally relevant down to the instant news might hit the internet. Those momentary and temporary interactions are great for surveying a general sense of a trend, but the biggest issue in social media metrics is tracking actual engagement. Often when using Twitter as benchmark we can only confidently talk about “potential impressions”. I have a couple thousand followers on Twitter, so when I tweet, there’s the POTENTIAL for a couple thousand people to encounter my message. There is, however, no concrete way to determine how many of my followers stopped to actually read my tweet.
Which is why Nielsen’s announcement is so perplexing to me. My DVR knows what I watch and when I watch it, even when I’m watching live TV. It knows how long I watched a show, exactly when I turned it off, if I returned to finish a show, and whether I wanted to keep it stored on my drive. It also is able to serve me recommendations based on what I’ve watched in the past. If we’re looking for relevance, for actual metrics on TV viewing, this to me would be a more appropriate first line to partner up with.
Neilsen’s notion that they can derive viewership based on authored tweets, and extrapolate that out to people who aren’t tweeting but still watching TV seems even less accurate than their current method of tracking viewership.
I get it. Twitter is hip right now. But the other issue is one of institution. Neilsen still looks like it’s operating with the notion that once a system is constructed that operating within that structure will provide meaningful results. The way communication is generated online evolves on a daily basis, and each individual network has it’s own etiquette which also adapts to changing trends. Whats vogue today might not be tomorrow, and viewership probably changes by platform. Meaning, you’ll be likely to see some subtle yet unique trends in viewership moving from Twitter to Facebook to Google Plus to Reddit, etc.
Combining that data with location becomes vital, not only the physical presence of where a person was when watching, but whether it came from terrestrial “air”, cable, or some web portal like Hulu or Netflix. Decisions are made every day on renewing or cancelling shows based on data generated by services like Nielsen, but I’m not sure their new strategy here is really going to make them more relevant…
In light of their upcoming IPO though, this is fantastic news for Twitter.
Read Nielsen’s full statement after the jump.
New York – Oct. 7, 2013 – Today Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, announced the commercial launch of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, the first-ever measure of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings measure not only “authors”—the number of people tweeting about TV programs—but also the much larger “audience” of people who actually view those Tweets.
Initial analysis of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings reveals that the Twitter TV audience for an episode is, on average, 50 times larger than the authors who are generating Tweets. For example, if 2,000 people are tweeting about a program, 100,000 people are seeing those Tweets. This multiplier varies across programs, with early data showing the ratio of the audience to the authors generally decreases (meaning the multiplier is smaller) as the number of authors for an episode increases. This is due to the increasing overlap of followers for shows with a large number of Twitter authors, where a single follower is increasingly likely to follow multiple authors.
Twitter conversation about live TV in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the past two years—19 million unique people in the U.S. composed 263 million Tweets about live TV in Q2 2013 alone, a 24 percent year-over-year increase in authors and a 38 percent increase in Tweet volume, according to SocialGuide. Until now, only the amount of Tweets and respective Twitter authors has been measurable. Without a measurement of the audience of people who view those Tweets, TV networks, advertisers and agencies were left wondering about the true reach and influence of TV-related activity on Twitter. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings complete the picture by measuring both Twitter TV-specific activity (Authors, Tweets) and reach (Unique Audience, Impressions).
Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings enable TV networks to measure the full Twitter engagement surrounding their programs, to measure the effectiveness of Twitter TV-related audience engagement strategies, and to better understand the relationship between Twitter and tune-in. Additionally, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings assist agencies and advertisers in making data-driven media planning and buying decisions that incorporate the full impact of Twitter TV.
“We are just beginning to understand the dynamic relationship between social media and television,” says Beth Rockwood, senior vice president, market resources and ad sales research at Discovery Communications. “The ‘Talking Social TV’ Study’ conducted through the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) has demonstrated that, particularly for ‘TV Super Connectors’, social media is an integral part of their relationship with television, and that different demographics and genres behave in unique ways. New tools, like the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, that allow us to further investigate the relationship between individual programs and social media will bring new insights and raise new questions. We look forward to having the opportunity to look at the new broadcast season through the lens of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings.”
“Social TV is transforming TV from something we watch to something we do,” says Graeme Hutton, senior vice president of research, Universal McCann. “The potential value of SocialGuide and Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings is that it provides a pathway for an advertiser to turn audience energy into brand momentum. In particular, it should be valuable in developing brand activation strategies, and highlighting potential new programming areas for brands which may have previously been viewed as outside their comfort zone.”
“Our recent real-time marketing activities across brands like Oreo, Wheat Thins and Trident have shown us how live engagement can drive brand loyalty and business growth. But Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are opening up a whole new world: they enable us to amplify our brand messages by taking full advantage of social TV engagement,” said Bonin Bough, vice president, global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz International. “Knowing in advance what the effective Twitter TV engagement is around key events is game-changing and will enable us to connect even more efficiently with our consumers.”
Along with Nielsen’s existing SocialGuide solutions for Twitter TV measurement, analytics and engagement, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings represent Nielsen’s latest innovation in enabling the media industry to harness the power of social media. “The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a powerful measurement with far reaching implications for the industry,” said Steve Hasker, president, global product leadership, Nielsen. “It’s exciting that investments are being made to build 360 degree engagement—and drive passion from viewers—around programming. This holistic measure of how Twitter activity influences TV engagement will bring clarity to the value of those efforts.”
Built on the SocialGuide platform, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are available for TV programming across over 215 English-language U.S. broadcast and cable networks. Nielsen is currently working with Twitter to accurately measure and report Spanish-language networks. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a separate set of measures that complement traditional National TV Ratings. They do not change the traditional National TV Ratings.
Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings deliver overnight metrics into two platforms: SocialGuide Intelligence and Nielsen National TV View. In addition, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings Weekly Top Ten list will be available at SocialGuide.com, highlighting the highest-ranking episodes by Twitter TV audience on a weekly basis.