Editor's Choice

Twitter and Nielsen Partner on New Social TV Rating

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Twitter and Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) struck an agreement to create a "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" that will measure the total audience for social TV activity on Twitter. This new rating includes both people who comment and people who are exposed to their comments.

Networks and marketers have indeed been closely scrutinizing and encouraging social-media activity around TV shows. It has remained unclear how much benefit social chatter ultimately provides for ratings or advertisers, but something closer to an industry-standard gauge could be one step in better understanding that equation.

Chloe Sladden, VP-media at Twitter, in a post on Twitter's blog:

As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming. This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating.

Steve Hasker, president-global media products and advertiser solutions at Nielsen, in a statement describing the service, said:

As a media-measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data.

Why is this an interesting partnership?

The rise of the second screen cannot be denied anymore, Nielsen and NM Incite’s recent Social Media Report found that some 44% of U.S. tablet owners and 38% of U.S. smartphone owners engage with social networking sites or apps daily while watching TV. Though there are challenges concerning "real" attention between the primary program and the second screen, advertisers and networks can create new experiences for the time coming before diffusion and increased competitiveness will set in.

Twitter amongst the social media platforms has proliferated itself as a real time "quick-chat-at-the-watercooler" platform. It's interface and core functionality is perfectly build for television for viewers to interact aside the primary program without much hassle.

This is not the first collaboration between Twitter and Nielsen, previously I reported on Twitter Surveys, a new advertising tool for brands and marketers. Twitter will offer surveys (via @TwitterSurveys) that can run inside a Twitter user’s timeline. A tweet will ask if a user wants to do the survey, then if he or she clicks on it, it will appear within the timeline so he isn’t taken away from Twitter. Twitter is working with Nielsen to offer analysis of the results, allowing for more direct comparison to campaigns on other sites as well as on TV. 

Game changer: business model innovation

To solidify the notion that this is a game-changer, the press release quoted executives from both FOX and CBS (NYSE: CBS). David F. Poltrack, Chief Research Officer at CBS said:

"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 such as CBS to offer engaging interactive features
for our viewers. As this form of viewer engagement evolves into a mainstream activity, it presents ways
for CBS to enhance the viewing experience for our viewers and our advertisers. We are already engaged
with Nielsen and Twitter in a program of research and experimentation in this exciting new area. We are pleased to see Nielsen and Twitter join together to provide a comprehensive measurement system that will allow us to employ these social networking tools to their full advantage."

I’ve always believed firmly that television networks can innovate their revenue streams. Their current revenue streams are being challenged, but I see great value in intelligence-as-a-service, aggregating multichannel (real-time and/or social) data to provide their advertisers of more rich, in depth intelligence they can use to extract actionable insights. Have a look at my Social TV Hybrid Innovation model where Twitter, measurements/analytics and co-creation with the viewers play an important role in revenue model innovation:

<img height="436" src="/media/images/user_15179/social-tv-hybrid-innovation3_large.png" width="543" />

(View here on Slideshare).

This is much more bottom up data that could validate or direct advertisers in new directions. Think for instance about additional information about their target audiences, is it still the audience networks think are watching their shows. Through netnography a much more qualitative research can be done to really understand the viewer.

Intelligence-as-a-service is a virtuous cycle because the better insights both the network and advertiser have about people watching, the more money can be asked for advertising slots and so on. Not to mention the new revenue streams and business models for Nielsen and Twitter.

Big social data is not only a challenge but definitely offers many great innovation opportunities.

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