Nielsen Incorporates Twitter; What's Next?

Nielsen recently announced their latest product, Twitter TV Ratings, as a way of measuring television success and viral-ness. Why? Because where and when people watch TV along with how they engage with that content is swiftly changing. 

For years, broadcasting companies based the success of a television series solely on the number of viewers during the initial broadcast, and if a show didn’t make a certain viewership quota, it got the boot. However, the emergence of second-screen usage is changing that, and Twitter is just the beginning. Based on a Nielsen study published in June 2013, nearly half of smartphone users (46%) and tablet users (43%) are engaging on second-screens while watching TV, multiple times a week. Additionally, in an eConsultancy Multi-Screen Marketer report, 52% of respondents said it was somewhat or more likely that they would use another device while watching television; when throwing smartphones and then tablets into the mix, the numbers rose to 60% and 65%, respectively.



Society is making a switch to more easily accessible and “faster” social media outlets; 140 character tweets and a photo feed on Instagram are easier to soak in “on-the-go." Nielsen’s focus on Twitter is definitely a step in the right direction; a recent study from Piper Jaffray shows teenagers prefer Twitter to Facebook, 26% to 23%, which is a significant change from the 3% preference of Facebook over Twitter in a similar study published earlier this year. Throwing Instagram into the mix provides some more interesting statistics with the proportion of teens who preferred Instagram over the other two platforms, growing from 17% to 23%. Today, our tweets are getting shorter while we share more and more photos. 

So what should advertisers and publishers do?

1. Create Experiences

Every ad on TV or in front of a Hulu episode is an opportunity to bring people into your online world. If you’re already placing an advertisement on television, create a related social experience through Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram. 

2. Advertise Without Ads

Sometimes, thanks to streaming sites like Netflix and DVR, audiences don’t see any ads alongside the content, so today’s advertisers are getting creative (literally). There’s an increase in content marketing with brands like Acuvue sponsoring web series and Intel creating movies along with typical product placements. 

3. Personal Personalities

From the writers to the actors to the reality show contestants, the talent and personalities’ web presence is an opportunity to develop a stronger fandom around your show. Think of it as “The Late Night Show 2.0.” 

4. Do it Live

Watching an award show or season finale is a large cultural experience, with fans hopping on Twitter to see others’ reactions and share their own. Join the conversation! Reply, favorite, retweet, share hints and behind the scenes information. These platforms aren’t just where the people who are already fans go to talk, it’s where your future audience is too. Seeing all of your friends posting reaction gifs all over Tumblr for the ending of “Breaking Bad” is a pretty big motivator to start watching the show. 

5. Observe and Engage

It is easy to want to jump on every social platform and repurpose content from one platform to the next, but it isn’t always that simple. Take some time to observe when and how your fans or potential customers are talking about a television program. By taking a step back, you can make very informed decisions on how you engage with them in a genuine way, which is far less likely to be deemed as marketing and instead create stepping blocks to build a relationship.

As we begin the shift away from traditional measurements of TV success, it’s important to recognize Twitter is just the beginning. Thriving online fandom communities exist on platforms like Tumblr and YouTube, which remains one of the most popular destinations for visual content with more than 1 billion unique users and 4 billion views per day. The question we should be asking is not “is Twitter TV a valid measurement of show potential” but “what’s next?”

Now that Twitter is a part of Nielsen’s TV ratings system, which platform do you think should be next?

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