Nielsen TwitterNielsen and Twitter have announced an agreement to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” for the US market. The companies will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter, which they plan to make available commercially from the beginning of the autumn 2013 TV season. The announcement comes shortly after Nielsen’s acquisition of SocialGuide, which captures and creates metrics for Twitter TV activity for all US programming.

Nielsen say the Twitter TV Rating will be supplementary to their existing TV ratings, with a view to offering TV networks and advertisers real-time metrics to better understand the relationship between TV audiences and social activity.

David F. Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation, said the second screen is already having a major impact on how CBS creates programmes.  “The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has generated a substantial ‘connected’ TV audience that is simultaneously watching television and accessing the Internet through these devices. This, in turn, will continue to create the opportunity for content providers like CBS to offer engaging interactive features for our viewers,” he said.

How Might the Ratings Be Used?

It’s going to be interesting to see how the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is applied in practice. Data from social analytics can sometimes be difficult to act on, with data sets that are difficult to compare on an ‘apples to apples’ basis. Social analytics is a very different science to simply performing an audience head count.

For example, Twitter went into over-drive while George Michael played what was widely regarded as a terrible song during the Olympics closing ceremony — but what does that actually teach you?  Were people more engaged because they tweeted about it, or less? Which demographics use Twitter and are they likely to enjoy George Michael’s music, or are they likely to be watching the Olympics closing ceremony at all? And even when a semantic analysis is added into the mix, how do you interpret what a social analytics tool might pick up on as ‘negative sentiment’?  Was it so bad it was good, and therefore more enjoyable to tweet about as part of a shared experience? Or did it genuinely detract from the entire ceremony, and reflect badly on the broadcaster and/or advertisers?

That said, the fact these questions exist don’t negate the value of social analytics either. Provided the data is used by the right people, in the right way, the Nielsen Twitter Rating – and the various other social analytics tools on the market (see VAN’s coverage of IBM’s social analytics tools from earlier in the year) – are a welcome additional source of data that will only improve over time.


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