Do TV-related tweets lead to a spike in a show's ratings? Nielsen and its analytics subsidiary SocialGuide believe they do.
At Internet Week in New York on Tuesday, Nielsen executive Sean Casey, SVP of products and founder of SocialGuide, says the ratings agency would publish a study in the next few months that specifically shows a link between Twitter TV chat and show ratings.
"Advertisers want to improve their performance and effectiveness around TV buys, and a better measurement of all facets of the impact of social media will help them," Casey says, adding that more such studies were to follow.
Preliminary data indicates that Twitter is statistically significant for TV ratings among 18-34-year-olds, according to Casey, noting that an 8.5 percent increase in TV-related tweets about a show correlates to a 1 percent boost in ratings.
According to Nielsen, there were some 300 million program-related tweets in the first quarter of this year from 19 million unique people. In 2012, Nielsen clocked some 32 million unique people tweeting on TV topics. "The Twitter TV conversation is accelerating," Casey says.
Nielsen and Twitter are already working closely to launch the Nielsen Twitter ratings, the first standard metric that attempts to measure the reach of TV conversations on Twitter, in time for the 2013 fall television season.
That gives Nielsen access to key data associated with Twitter activity that's related to 235 television channels. Twitter has proprietary technology that knows when tweets actually intersect with a viewpoint, or the actual impressions delivered, Casey says. "We think this holistic approach will give advertisers a better view of the Twitter TV phenomena."
A much larger audience is exposed to tweets than is actually tweeting, he adds, with viewing impressions ranging from 50 to 200 times greater than the actual tweeting activity. And some 70 percent of impressions are captured in the first two hours of a show.
Sports cable channel ESPN is also keenly interested in mining the data that comes from social conversations around its programming, according to David Coletti, vice president, digital media research and analytics at ESPN, speaking at a panel on Twitter and TV at Internet Week.
"We have thousands of reporters at ESPN tweeting news. The conversation happening during the day can inform the lead story that night," he says. This information also helps ad partners determine whether they are a fit for the ESPN brand and social personality.
Digital marketing agency Hip Genius also uses social listening tools such as SocialGuide to find insights on who the most influential people are who are tweeting about a particular TV show, says Lesley Robin, director of digital marketing, at the panel.
For example, while working with client TV One, Hip Genius discovered that Spinderella, formerly of Salt-N-Pepa, was tweeting heavily about her love for the show "Unsung," which focuses on forgotten R&B or Soul groups that have sunken into undeserved obscurity. TV One responded by making Spinderella its special "Unsung ambassador," who live tweets during the program and creates blog entries on behalf of the station. "We love to allow fans to tell their stories," says Robin.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014