Nielsen and NM Incite (Nielsen's joint venture with McKinsey & Co.) have acquired SocialGuide, a company that tracks the viewing habits of Twitter users. The question is, will the deal usher in a new era of receptivity and attention to digital media by the measurement giant, or is this just Nielsen ticking the "social media" box and moving on?
"The skyrocketing adoption and use of social media among consumers is transforming TV-watching into a more immediate and shared experience," Steve Hasker, Nielsen's president of global media products and advertiser solutions, said in announcing the deal.
Trouble is, SocialGuide only tracks Twitter. "SocialGuide has a fantastic analytics platform, but overall, it's just one piece of the social platform," said Jesse Redniss, svp of digital for USA. "It's a great first move. Since the competition is Trendrr, Bluefin and SocialGuide, it was interesting to see the choice because there's only one metric out there they're using, and that's Twitter."
And marketing dollars have been flooding Facebook for a while now, although that platform is a much less stable social site than Twitter, with near-constant interface overhauls and several extremely public clashes with users over privacy concerns.
Still, Facebook is also used by over 800 million people.
The other question is whether Nielsen will adopt a C3-style measurement system to gauge social activity (C3 is one of the company's recent ratings innovations, which includes a wider range of viewer options across three days), rather than the now-standard window of mere hours around the program's airtime.
"There's a lot to be said outside that three-hours-before and three-hours-after window," Redniss asserts. "There's a lot of fast-forward disabling, and even then, [analytics are] not just about the ad placement."
Nielsen is obviously changing—the company's OCR (online campaign) and XCR (cross-platform campaign) ratings are slowly taking off—it's just a question of how much.