Since 1950, Nielsen has been the industry standard for television audience measurement. And, as such, the company’s practices go through a rigorous auditing process to ensure accountability. The dollars and cents that are traded within the TV industry are based on Nielsen ratings. And networks turn to Nielsen as the de facto “report card” that ultimately determines the fate of their programming.
In today’s social TV world, a second data source (viewers’ own “social impressions” that they create while they watch TV) is being measured and reported by companies including Bluefin Labs, Trendrr, SocialGuide, Networked Insights, and Crimson Hexagon. They each have a proprietary measurement methodology and, as such, their results can often differ when compared.
I was struck by how many different sources measuring the “most popular” Super Bowl commercials all seemed to come up with different #1s this past year. It begs the question of who is right and which data set should advertisers trust?
Truth be told, there is no easy or single answer today. Stacey and I asked this question during last Monday’s TVnext insights panel. What was discussed cetered around choosing a social TV ratings partner that best lined up with given KPIs and one that does this kind of measurement as part of its core business 365 days a year. It was also mentioned that it takes lots of different kinds of measurement sources to get the most full pictures of how “successful” programming (including TV spots) were in resonating with audiences.
And it’s that last point that underscores why Nielsen will continue to be a dominant force in TV audience measurement moving forward and why the emerging social TV measurement companies are compliments (not replacements) to existing measurement practices.