Twitter And Nielsen Announce Partnership To Create New Twitter-Based TV Rating

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Nielsen and Twitter just announced a deal for something called the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, which they’re hoping to turn into the standard metric for measuring the conversation that a TV show spurs on Twitter.

The companies say they’re planning to make the rating available commercially in the fall of 2013. The new Twitter ratings are supposed to complement Nielsen’s existing TV ratings, and will be built on top of the SocialGuide platform offered by NM Incite. (NM Incite is a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey, and it announced the acquisition of SocialGuide last month.)

In a post on the Twitter blog, the company’s head of media Chloe Sladden said Twitter’s TV partners have been asking for “one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming.” And according to the press release, the new rating will measure “the total audience for social TV activity – both those participating in the conversation and those who were exposed to the activity – providing the precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming.”

It doesn’t seem like either company is releasing too many details about the new rating and what it will be measuring yet. Here at TechCrunch, Gregory Ferenstein has written skeptically about the numbers that social media platforms use to tout the impact they can have (he was talking specifically about politics, but was also making a broader point).

This is an area that startups have explored as well (Bluefin Labs comes to mind), so it will be interesting to see how they respond now that Twitter is partnering to expand its own measurement options.

In the release, Steve Hasker, president of global media products and advertiser solutions at Nielsen, points to the opportunity that the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating could have on measuring ad campaigns that include both traditional TV advertising and Twitter:

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media. As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data

Earlier this year, Twitter and Nielsen also partnered to use Twitter surveys to measure the impact of brand advertising campaigns.

Update 1: Since I mentioned Bluefin above, I figured I should ask the company for its thoughts on the announcement. Here’s what CEO JP Maheu said via email:

This partnership between Twitter and Nielsen shows the growing importance of social TV ratings for TV networks. Bluefin Labs has pioneered the broader field of social TV analytics that goes beyond counting the number of tweets. Because of its unique ad tracking capabilities, Bluefin Labs is the only company that has the ability to measure how consumers respond to TV commercials via social media. Bluefin Labs remains focused on driving new innovations in social TV analytics, not just by focusing on one dimensional ratings and rankings, but by providing rich and actionable multi-dimensional analytics [affinity data] to brands and TV networks.

Update 2: And here are some comments from Nielsen’s Hasker.