Nielsen Study: Strong Correlation Between Twitter TV Activity and General Audience Engagement

By Adam Flomenbaum Comment


Nielsen today released the findings from a recently conducted study that shows that there is a strong correlation between Twitter TV engagement and engagement with programming among the general viewing audience.

To conduct the study*, Nielsen Social analyzed minute-by-minute tweet activity around live airings of eight cable TV shows that have historically had different levels of Twitter activity and TV ratings. At the same time, Nielsen Neuro measured emotion, memory, and attention among 300 viewers to track their engagement with the episodes.

Findings and implications via Nielsen:

Nielsen found that changes in Twitter TV activity are strongly correlated (79.5%) with neurological engagement. More specifically, the study identified emotion, memory and attention as the specific neurometrics tied to Twitter TV activity. This finding is notable for three reasons. First, the fact that Twitter TV activity is correlated with the combination of these three neurometrics signals that program content is engaging viewers through multiple psychological processes. Second, other Nielsen Neuro research has shown that the combination of these same key neurometrics is correlated with sales outcomes in ad testing. Third, Nielsen TV Brand Effect research has also shown that ads perform better on memorability in TV programs with high program engagement. Combined, these findings suggest that advertising in highly social programs could be an opportunity to drive both ad memorability and sales outcomes.

Nielsen and Twitter have famously struggled to prove that tweet activity results in ratings increases; this study takes a different approach, then, in attempt to achieve the same outcome: increased ad spend.

The main difference, though, is that the former approach (tweet activity à ratings) leads to more of the ad spend going to Twitter’s native advertising product. The latter approach (this study) may also result in more money going to Twitter – not toward their own ad product, but instead for their TV data, which will in turn inform advertisers how to better spend with networks.

















Analysis of minute-by-minute Twitter TV and neuro data was completed for eight prime time broadcast and cable TV programs ranging in levels of Twitter activity and TV ratings. Nielsen Neuro monitored the brain activity of nearly 300 study participants (21-54 years old), recruited from San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and Atlanta using standard Nielsen Neuro recruitment procedures, which include a representative race and ethnicity sampling consistent with local demographic composition. Neuro data for each program was collected from equal number of males and females participants who indicated that they regularly watched the given program.

Neurological Engagement was measured as the sum of indices of Emotion, Memory, and Attention. Twitter TV Activity was measured as relevant U.S. Tweets. Since Twitter TV and neuro data fluctuate at different scales, the final analysis correlated rate of change (i.e., minute-by-minute difference in neuro and Twitter values respectively) as opposed to raw values. Twitter TV and neuro data were normalized on a minute-by-minute basis across all programs before they were averaged within each segment, resulting in 49 total segments.