Twitter: Bluefin Labs acquisition ‘reflects our commitment to the social TV market’

By Cory Bergman 

It’s a done deal. Twitter confirmed reports of its Bluefin Labs acquisition on Tuesday night, doubling down on the company’s efforts to own the social TV space.

“This acquisition reflects our commitment to the social TV market, and builds on our exclusive partnership with Nielsen announced in December to develop the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, the centerpiece of social TV measurement,” explained Twitter COO Ali Rowghani. “We believe that Bluefin’s data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV.”

The acquisition price was not disclosed, but the NY Times reported that the price tag was just short of $100 million, according to an anonymous source. Not only is it the biggest acquisition in social TV history, but Twitter’s biggest as well.

“It’s a big day for social television and for us at Bluefin Labs,” explained Michael Fleischman, Jean-Philippe Maheu and Deb Roy in a blog post. “While our products have always included data from multiple social media services, the reality is that Twitter is the platform where the overwhelming majority ­– about 95% – of public real-time engagement with TV happens. So we couldn’t be more excited to join Twitter.”

(A team photo from Bluefin’s Facebook page)

Twitter said that Bluefin’s current clients will be supported, “but we will not continue to sell Bluefin’s product suite beyond the existing contracts.” In other words, Bluefin is now on Twitter’s advertising sales team. “Now as part of Twitter, we look forward to working closely with Nielsen, TV networks, advertisers, agencies, and the rest of the TV ecosystem to help shape the future of social TV,” Bluefin executives explained.

As we wrote on Monday, the addition of Bluefin’s analytics technology gives Twitter much-needed data to reinforce with TV advertisers that a Twitter media buy amplifies their TV buy. In the early days of a social ad product, clients pay to experiment. But as the product matures, there’s an increasing need for hard data to justify the ROI. Combined with the credibility of the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, Twitter is beefing up its sales story to move beyond experimental buys of promoted tweets and trends and grow its share among the biggest advertisers of all.

This is far from Twitter’s last play in social TV. Back in December, Twitter’s TV guy Fred Graver explained there are three goals. “One, developing Twitter as the live TV companion. Two, developing Twitter as a kind of live TV guide. And three, beginning to think about the Twitter rating as a new kind of TV rating,” he said.

Since then, Twitter teamed with Nielsen to create the rating, and acquiring Bluefin Labs will help drive Twitter’s second screen business. But there’s much more to go to meet those goals, especially on the product side. We’ve speculated before on some features they could add, and it will be exciting to see what they do next.

“As millions of people around the world experienced during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast, Twitter is an amazing complement to live television viewing,” explained Rowghani. “We look forward to working with Bluefin and our partners in the television industry to make the experience of Twitter and television even better.”