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Will the ‘Nielsen Twitter TV Rating’ become the industry standard metric for social TV?

Nielsen has announced a deal with Twitter to create a new social TV rating that they hope will become a standard in the industry. For Nielsen, this has been a remarkable story of catching up quickly in the social TV space, acquiring SocialGuide and partnering with Twitter in just over a month’s time. For Twitter, it’s an effort to further illustrate its value for “broadcasters and advertisers [to] create truly social TV experiences,” explains Twitter VP Chloe Sladden. The more TV participates on Twitter, the better Twitter becomes.

The quest for a standard “social TV rating” has been one of the biggest battles in the industry. Nielsen has lagged behind startups like Bluefin Labs, Trendrr and Networked Insights, which have made significant inroads. But Nielsen has a distinct advantage: credibility and a long client list in the TV industry.

“Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketers,” Sladden explained today. “Our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming. This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating.”

It’s unclear exactly what the new “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” will entail — today’s announcement precedes the actual product launch slated for Fall 2013 — but you could imagine Twitter providing Nielsen with actual impression data tied to TV tweets (how many people actually saw a given tweet in their timelines). This data is not available via Twitter’s API, and it could help provide some muscle behind the new Nielsen Twitter TV rating. It will also be interesting to see how Nielsen correlates the metric with its other data products, i.e. advertiser engagement data and multi-screen experiences.

What does all this mean for startups like Bluefin Labs? “Social TV analytics is actually a lot broader and more powerful than simply rankings and ratings for TV shows,” explains JP Maheu, CEO of Bluefin Labs. “That means going beyond the one-dimensional rating to provide rich and actionable multi-dimensional analytics to both the buy side and sell side of the $70B a year TV advertising ecosystem.” He provides this example:

“We’ve also built out a multi-dimensional affinity analysis platform because, for brands, not all social is created equal. For example, Jersey Shore is one of the most social shows on TV. A one-dimensional social ‘rating’ will tell you that. But if you’re an advertiser — say, BMW, AAPR, Huggies or Cartier — does it mean Jersey Shore is the best social environment for your brand? The answer is: it depends on what the ‘brand affinity’ data says and that goes beyond a simple ranking.”

Together, Nielsen and Twitter have a distinct advantage at nailing down an industry standard metric for Twitter, but the market is certainly big enough to support several social TV data services with a diverse range of products. Trendrr, for example, uses a broader set of social data sources and provides custom products, such as tracking social activity in local TV markets.

Twitter, meanwhile, will likely continue to play nice with startups that help illustrate the value of social activity for the TV industry. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric,” Sladden says.

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