Quick take on Twitter’s social TV move

Today Nielsen announced a partnership with Twitter. The announcement centered around a multi-year agreement to create a social TV audience measurement called the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating.

My quick take is as follows:

  • Today’s announcement is a sign legacy audience measurement providers are finally looking to catch up to the social analytics startups. Until a couple months ago, Nielsen hadn’t shown any real interest in social TV, but today not only do they have a product in SocialGuide, but are  working directly with the company which mints the central currency for social TV.
  • Twitter has once again proven themselves merciless to citizens of broader Twitter ecosystem. Their direct relationship with Nielsen is bad news for other measurement firms such as Bluefin Labs and Trendrr, who have to rely on firehose access through a third party partner.  These firms have to be worried about access to any additional insights or audience that Twitter could provide that would not be available through a third party data provider. More drastically, these companies can’t be comforted by the thought of Twitter venturing further into the analytics space themselves, given the company’s history of cutting it’s competition off at the knees.
  • On the bright side, Twitter provides only a partial account of social TV conversation, whereas I believe a fuller picture requires Facebook conversations. Why? Because Facebook is much more representative of the broader population, while Twitter sentiment is swayed heavily by a small segment of super-influencers.
  • This need for Facebook in a fuller social TV analytics suite should give solace to other social TV analytics providers, particularly since, at this point, any chance of Facebook working exclusively with Nielsen is exactly zero after today.

In general, there’s no getting around the fact this is a big announcement for Nielsen and Twitter, while also discouraging for other social TV analytics providers. However, others should hold out hope that Twitter, while important, provides only a partial picture of social buzz around TV and, long term, brands have to measure campaign effectiveness across all the different social channels. While Twitter may be the dominant real-time conversation platform around TV today, it’s certainly not the only  one.

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Michael Wolf

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3 Comments Subscribers to comment
  1. Facebook certainly matters, and if I were a brand or agency I would certainly want incite into Facebook chatter about a show. But I’m paying for the live audience, and what I really want to know is how people are engaging with a show in real time. That means Twitter.

    1. @Paul – you can certainly get an understanding of how a segment is engaging around live shows with Twitter, but there’s a problem: engagement on live-shows on Twitter is hugely swayed by super-influencers. Twitter is 90% passive users, meaning they’ll retweet Michael Ian Black (or insert favorite comedian here), but the vast majority of the broader population doesn’t actively use Twitter during live shows.

      As I said in piece – you need both to do true social measurement around live and on demand shows. Facebook has realtime engagement during shows (think of all the status updates about a person’s sports teams) and I imagine it’s much more broadly representative.

      1. @Wolf — I’m not disagreeing about the overall value of Facebook. I’m just suggesting it will be easier for broadcasters to monetize Twitter/Nielsen data in the near term because it promises to be more analogous to what brands/agencies are already paying for.

        I also think the impact of super-influencers on Twitter could turn out to be more a feature than a bug here. Engaging super-influencers is likely to be a sought-after, and therefore monetizable, element of a show’s appeal.

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