New Twitter Metrics Go Live and Company Gears for IPO

It’s been another busy week for the folks at Twitter.  This past Monday, global information measurement company – Nielsen – unveiled the “Nielsen Twitter TV” ratings metric.  The new tool quantifies reach and impressions across Twitter, measuring how many users tweet and view tweets related to popular television programs.  This comes just a few months after Nielsen released a study confirming that Twitter activity has a direct impact on television ratings.  But will this new data be of value?  Beth Rockwood, the Senior Vice President of Market Resources and Ad Sales for Discovery Communications seems to think so:  “We are just beginning to understand the dynamic relationship between social media and television.  New tools, like the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, that allow us to further investigate the relationship between individual programs and social media will bring new insights and raise new questions.”

During the first week in which Twitter metrics were measured, Walter White and company cooked up a reach of 9.3 million Twitter accounts for the series finale of “Breaking Bad”.  A distant second was NBC’s singing competition show, “The Voice”, which had a reach of 3.8 million Twitter users, followed by “Jimmy Kimmel Live” with a reach of 3.4 million.  It’ll be interesting to see how closely networks look at this new data and whether or not they add strategies to try and increase their reach and impact across Twitter.

And that’s not all that’s been happening in the Twitter-verse.  You may have heard that Twitter is following in Facebook’s footsteps and becoming a publicly traded company.  Call your local talking e-Trade baby, the IPO is set for November 15, 2013.  Here are a few facts about the pending transaction:

  • The company is currently valued at $12.8 billion, though analysts project that valuation could approach $15-$20 billion once trading starts.
  • If a $12.8 billion valuation holds true, Twitter would be valued at 28.6x its 2013 revenue.  Facebook is currently valued at 20x its revenue and LinkedIn at 21x its revenue.
  • Projections for the price per share range from $28-$30 once the company goes public, possibly reaching $50 a share by the end of 2014.
  • Despite some negative figures on their books currently, 2014 revenue for Twitter could reach $1.2 billion

Are you buying?

  • In August, another report claimed to show a causal relationship between tweets and TV viewership. Yet neither was embraced as proof of concept. “It was a small study,” says Sabrina Caluori, VP of social media and performance marketing at HBO. “There were no premium or cable networks [included].” The report revealed that tweets caused ratings to spike for just 29% of the 221 episodes in the sample. Unsurprisingly, tweeters had the greatest impact on reality TV, affecting ratings 44% of the time. As for such specifics as how many tweets, exactly, it takes to lift ratings, Nielsen didn’t say. “We’re still looking to see additional studies they’ll be doing to see how our programming may be affected,” Caluori says. Still, she is a Twitter believer. “Our take is that Twitter is another important word-of-mouth driver,” she says, citing the “rabid” Twitter following of Game of Thrones.
  • Nielsen announced the initiative last year, and though it may not yet be as well known or perhaps as well regarded by TV industry executives yet, Twitter’s slow and continuous growth and penetration into the public consciousness plus its upcoming IPO may mean the new rating ends up being quite influential. This is especially true considering Nielsen just discovered that tweets about a show can actually drive its traditional ratings figure up.
  • Nielsen looked at Twitter’s timeline and tried to correlate it on a minute-by-minute basis with Nielsen’s own prime time ratings for 221 episodes of mainstream shows. Apparently Nielsen’s data showed that Twitter caused a “significant increase” in ratings 29% of the time.
  • There were more than 1.2 million tweets about Breaking Bad during the week of Sept. 23, which reached nearly 9.3 million Twitter accounts, making it by far the most visible show on the social network.
  • It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Breaking Bad would dominate Twitter during the week of its series finale, but the real surprise is that networks can now tell just how well their shows performed on the social network compared to others. The numbers come from Nielsen’s new Twitter TV ratings, which officially launched on Monday and promises to quantify the number of users who post and view tweets about popular TV shows.
  • “The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a powerful measurement with far reaching implications for the industry,” Steve Hasker, president of global product leadership for Nielsen, said in a statement. Hasker describes the new metrics as a more “holistic measure” for “how Twitter activity influences TV engagement.”
  • At the moment, though, it’s unclear how accurate a gauge the Twitter TV ratings are and whether networks will — or should — pay attention to it. In the case of Breaking Bad, the reach indicated by the Twitter ratings — 9.3 million — is fairly close to the 10.3 million viewers who reportedly tuned in for the episode, according to separate Nielsen data.
  • However, the viewership and social data didn’t match up quite so well for other shows. For example, an episode of The Voice rated a distant second for the week of the Breaking Bad finale with a Twitter audience of 3.8 million unique users, even though multiple episodes averaged significantly more viewers than Breaking Bad during that same week.
  • “We are just beginning to understand the dynamic relationship between social media and television,” Beth Rockwood, SVP of market resources and ad sales for Discovery Communications, which owns the Discovery Channel, said in a statement. “New tools, like the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, that allow us to further investigate the relationship between individual programs and social media will bring new insights and raise new questions.”
  • For Twitter, there may be even more at stake. The social networking company likely hopes to use the new metrics to show its value to major networks and attract more TV ad dollars as it prepares to go public.

 

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