*This blog post has been updated from its original form to reflect more current information.
Nielsen's New Social TV Ratings
Nielsen introduced new social content ratings on Wednesday, August 3rd. Since its founding in 1923, Nielsen has been focused on measuring TV ratings. These new social content ratings aren't much different, as they measure the amount of social activity that focuses on TV.
Any kind of engagement that is about a TV or the stars and characters of that show
The downside of these ratings is that they don’t measure all social chatter about TV. For instance, they only measure mentions and engagements for 3 hours before and after linear programming has aired, as well as while it’s airing. For some series and specials, Nielsen does offer 24/7 monitoring of social chatter. On top of that, they only measure linear TV episodes - that means TV shows that are watched as scheduled.
This means that most likely a lot of social chatter isn’t being measured, such as mentions and engagements that happen more than 3 hours before or 3 hours after a show airs.
President of Nielsen Social Sean Casey says, “Nielsen is the first to bring to the market this much needed total, standardized, measurement for Social TV through Social Content Ratings.”
Nielsen vs. Rentrak
Could ratings competitor Rentrak take social content ratings to the next level like they did for TV ratings?
For decades, Nielsen has been the giant of television rating tracking. However, the advent of digital technologies such as the DVR and live streaming on social platforms has shown Nielsen’s overwhelming shortcoming, though Nielsen has begun efforts to overcome that difference.
In most major markets, Nielsen tracks viewership habits digitally. However, in more rural markets that largely lack broadband access, the company relies upon written diaries, sent out to volunteers upon whom they rely to honestly and consistently update their viewing habits. That’s the window that Rentrak identified, and became the first ratings company that bases their analytics upon digital data. It should be noted that Nielsen is in fact working to phase out diary recordings all together, though no definitive timetable has been made available.
From a marketer’s perspective, Rentrak offers incredible insight into viewing habits in addition to consumer’s buying habits. It's shocking that Nielsen seems to have beaten Rentak in the social tracking game. Back in September of 2015, Rentrak acquired Sponsorhub, a giant in social media analytics during broadcast events.
In a statement, Rentrak CEO Bill Livek said, “We are excited to add social media measurement to our TV Everywhere products, as it will give additional transparency and purchasing flexibility for brands and agencies through SponsorHub’s social media products."
Benefits of Social TV Ratings
Regardless of who ends up making the best social content ratings system, the fact that Nielsen has introduced ratings for this behavior has big benefits for the TV and advertising industries. These ratings will allow TV networks and advertising agencies to better understand their audiences - and figure out what social media strategies work best to reach them.
According to Nielsen, Americans posted nearly 1 BILLION tweets about TV in 2015 and on August 1st of this year they found that there were 4.7 million measurable interactions about TV on Facebook and Twitter. Digging through this content allows TV networks to see which shows are garnering the most (and best) reaction from the general public. This is going to play into which shows get renewed for another season - and which ones get the ax.