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Thanks Nielsen for that Twitter Study — But It’s Time We “Total It Up” with You

The media world is abuzz about the latest Nielsen study which suggests that “Twitter TV activity can…tell us just how engaged the general viewing population is with the programming it watches.”

Through mapping brain activity alongside Twitter TV activity, Nielsen goes even further to state that this activity also “stands as a bellwether for general audience engagement.” This is a valuable finding, one that we think is extremely fascinating, but not for the exact reasons that Nielsen is trumpeting.

At its core, the findings don’t seem especially surprising — when people are engaged with a TV program (and we’ve got the brain waves to prove it), there’s a better chance they’ll do something about it, like Tweet. And if people are engaged with TV programs, there’s a better chance they might actually look at and be inspired to act on or remember some of the ads they might have seen. Great news for networks and advertisers! And — theoretically — great news for Nielsen who has bet the “social TV” ranch on Twitter with their “exclusive multi-year agreement” from 2012.

We would like to take a moment here to highlight the misconception that “social TV” and “twitter activity” are interchangeable (look no further than this study’s headline on Nielsen’s website — “Social TV: A Bellwether for TV Audience Engagement”). This is a minor nuance but one with a major impact for the industry, and here’s why:

Twitter is a critically important platform for the TV industry, providing some of the most enriched data sets available, especially on a minute-by-minute basis, which is the traditional framework for linear advertising stories. They are arguably the kings of live television engagement and have masterfully created a platform that captures the real-time audience engagement and creates a town square of fun and excitement. Almost daily, we are leveraging insights from Twitter’s data and business strategies in our discussions with and recommendations to all of our clients — and not just our television network clients.

That said, many platforms make up the “social TV” ecosystem and the reason why this study is important has very little to do with Twitter alone, rather, it highlights the notion that actions taken on digital platforms can be representative of how engaged viewers are with specific programs. Think of it as an indication of how much attention the story, characters or story world content are capturing from the passive and participating audiences. In this case, Nielsen looked at tweets as a form of engagement (that is what they use for their Nielsen Twitter Television Ratings — NTTR).

But, imagine this; imagine if we “totaled it all up” (citing Nielsen’s recently launched Total it Upcampaign):

We take Nielsen’s headline-worthy finding and apply it across several of the largest digital and social platforms in the world measuring the types of engagements that nearly everyone does. We’re talking about Facebook. And Instagram. And Tumblr. And Snapchat. And, if you think about it, imagine the signals you get when you consider engagement on YouTube and search engine queries, as well. When you look across fan engagement across all these platforms, you take off the table the traditional criticism about NTTR while running with this study’s novel finding.

Well, the entire industry has been moving ahead with this philosophy for quite some time, making strides to measure both the quantitative data across all platforms as well as the qualitative insights that go along with said data. Not only are agencies, creators and research teams craving deep analytics and measurement across all screens and touch-points, they want to find meaning behind those metrics too. We’ve highlighted many of the companies that are fighting the good fight here in our previous posts.

Great companies like Listen First Media built this very philosophy as the foundation of their (Digital Audience Ratings) DAR metric, a cross-platform review of fan engagement across the entire television landscape, including Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, and Wikipedia (as a proxy for organic search activity). And they’re not limited to rating program engagement based solely on show presentation on traditional television.

This notion makes the recent news of Facebook opening up their audience data to provide deeper and richer marketer insights so much more powerful.

Arguably five times times more activity, engagement and social expression is being shared on Facebook, but yet it’s not being counted toward the NTTR definition of “social TV.”

But, let’s give some credit where credit is due: Nielsen has been making strides in this area. They have a strategic relationship with our good friends (*and a BRaVe investment) over at Mashwork, who came to market with the first productized qualitative social analytics tools in the market called *Canvs. This is by far one of the best platforms we’ve seen that provides real insight to that “meaning behind the metrics.”

When you look at the Neuro study, along with some of their other strategic moves and now their TV industry “call to arms” to literally pull a line from Jerry Maguire and “Help them help you!”

That’s why we are really excited by this Nielsen study — it corroborates one of the key foundations of our philosophy, which is taking a “not an either/or approach, but ALL” and Nielsen is now asking for help in figuring it all out.

So, we’re going to take you on your word here Nielsen and WE WANT TO HELP YOU HELP THE INDUSTRY. As you make a move to “Total it Up” across all screens, let’s not overlook how and where audiences indicate and share attention. It’s eyeballs being shared on the video screens as well as fingers swiping and tapping in social streams, apps and digital properties.

We may all agree with the Buggles that ‘Video Killed the Radio Star,’ but the future of video may be driven by the Social Star. So let’s make an effort here to “Total it Up” properly and capture attention and engagement across alldigital and social touch points and get a true view into what the future of attention really means. We’re here, ready and waiting…call us at 867–5309…but please make sure that if you want the entire industries help in “getting it right” that you’re ready to…



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