Nielsen Engages Twitter for TV Insights

Late last year, Nielsen announced that it had purchased an upstart social media measurement service, SocialGuide, and formed a strategic partnership with Twitter to develop a new ratings service called Twitter TV Ratings.

Nielsen claims that about 10 percent of all tweets are directly related to TV. This translates to 281 million TV tweets from 32 million unique devices in the U.S. during 2012.

Measuring Tweet Impressions & Reach
Since the acquisition and partnership, Nielsen has not offered many details but has noted that its new service will effectively measure the reach/impressions of tweets. Nielsen says it will now actually measure impressions and a de-duplicated audience number, providing a more equitable comparison between the value of tweet about a TV program to a traditional rating point (at least in terms of reach/impressions).

Studying Relationship Between Tweets & TV Programming
While there will be no integration between Nielsen ratings and Twitter TV Ratings initially, Nielsen will focus on better understanding the relationship between Twitter TV chatter and TV programming during the first stages of product development.

This past week, MediaDailyNews reported Nielsen’s initial ratings evaluation of more than 140 broadcast and cable programs during the fall 2012 TV premiere season. Nielsen concluded that an 8.5-percent increase in Twitter activity was associated with a 1-percent rise in TV program ratings among 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

A higher volume of Twitter activity is needed for older viewers to be part of the same TV rating movement. Nielsen says a 14-percent increase in Twitter volume was associated with a 1-percent rise in TV program ratings for 35- to 49-year-olds.

Looking at the regular fall 2012 season, the Twitter association is more connected to TV program ratings. Only a 4.2-percent rise in Twitter volume is associated with a 1-percent rise in ratings among 18- to 34-year-olds. For 35- to 49-year olds, just an 8.4-percent rise in Twitter activity moved ratings a percentage point.

An Initial Link Between Twitter & TV
While Nielsen is not suggesting Twitter activity is driving higher ratings, this information is the first indication that social activity and TV ratings are correlated. Nielsen must also investigate the impact social media can have on other relevant TV engagement metrics. Does social engagement around a program result in increased viewership of the program, increased live viewing or an increase in C3 (commercial) ratings?

These social engagement metrics, particularly when narrowed to meaningful target audiences, will best complement TV ratings. More importantly, it will allow marketers to better understand TV viewing, not only in terms of who is viewing but also the level of engagement a brand’s consumers have around programming content.

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Julie Pahutski
Julie Pahutski

Julie Pahutski leads Empower’s Decision Sciences practice, which is responsible for media measurement, market research, and digital/web analytics. Her passion is data, whether it is for advanced targeting, media analysis, attribution modeling, or dashboarding. She spearheaded the creation of many proprietary tools at Empower, including Impact Moments® and MAPS (a geographical targeting system).