ellipsis flag icon-blogicon-check icon-comments icon-email icon-error icon-facebook icon-follow-comment icon-googleicon-hamburger icon-imedia-blog icon-imediaicon-instagramicon-left-arrow icon-linked-in icon-linked icon-linkedin icon-multi-page-view icon-person icon-print icon-right-arrow icon-save icon-searchicon-share-arrow icon-single-page-view icon-tag icon-twitter icon-unfollow icon-upload icon-valid icon-video-play icon-views icon-website icon-youtubelogo-imedia-white logo-imedia logo-mediaWhite review-star thumbs_down thumbs_up

How social media should influence your TV buys

How social media should influence your TV buys Dan Neely

Networked Insights board member Mike Darviche led a great session at ad:tech New York entitled, "Chasing Paid Engagement: The Metrics that Matter and How to Measure Them." Let's take an in-depth look at some of the ideas he presented.

The data evolution
The first television ad in the U.S. was broadcast July 1, 1941. Bulova, the watchmaker, paid $4 for a placement on New York station WNBT before a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Bulova didn't have much data on how many people were watching or who they were. 

Then Nielsen introduced hard data into TV and media buying. The early adopters had a tremendous advantage over those not using Nielsen data. However, today, most media buyers are still using that same Nielsen data: It's hard to win the pot when everyone is dealt the same hand. Further, the Nielsen numbers haven't kept up with the times or technology -- witness its recent problems with measuring web usage.

Social media's new role in tracking
Social media monitoring has recently added some relevant data by tracking brand mentions around shows and ads. That said, simply searching for keywords has its limits: Boolean strings are time consuming to set up and maintain, and you won't ever find what you didn't know to look for.

Social media analytics has the opportunity to do far more than track brand mentions or count posts. The best analytics find discovery-based insights -- uncovering buzz that arises naturally from the conversation, unrelated to keywords. We can use analytics as a predictive tool to find the best shows to engage an audience for a brand -- and greatly improve the efficiency of a media spend.

It's more than an idea. Fans of highly engaged shows are paying more attention to the ads as well as the shows. By measuring the engagement around programs to find shows that score high, and finding opportunities for branded content integration, brands can grab a fast ride on the back of a popular show.

A show with high social engagement, but a low Nielsen rating, has great value because the show is priced according to Nielsen numbers-- not the unique value of a highly engaged audience. The social lift provided when the paid content spurs earned content via social media is generating efficiencies of at least 10 percent on media buys.
To illustrate the advantage of ranking shows according to engagement, let's compare the Nielsen ranking to the social engagement ranking for the week ending October 10, 2010.

Nielsen ratings

  1. NBC Sunday Night Football

  2. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick

  3. Glee

  4. Grey's Anatomy

  5. Modern Family

  6. Two and a Half Men

  7. Dancing with the Stars

  8. The Big Bang Theory

  9. House

  10. Desperate Housewives

Social engagement ratings

  1. House

  2. 30 Rock

  3. NCIS

  4. Monday Night Football

  5. American Idol

  6. Saturday Night Live

  7. Chuck

  8. The Office

  9. NCIS: LAModern Family

The takeaway? Buy "House" and get a No. 1 ranked show for the price of No. 9. Spend less and get the same reach -- that equals efficiency of media spend. In the same vein, "30 Rock" is also a great choice: It doesn't even rank in the Nielsen top 10, but it's second on the social list.

Of course we're speaking very generally here, because we haven't attached the buy to a brand. Social data provides great insights for matching brand to audience, so we'd factor that into our decisions when spending real money -- and gain even greater efficiencies.

Let's wrap up by diving deeper into a specific show. Even before social media existed, Oprah was the Queen of Social. The chart below explores the connection between buzz around a select celebrity and their appearance on Oprah.

We are always finding new ways to measure and leverage social metrics around TV viewing and related conversation. Because of its ability to gain real efficiencies in media spend, it's one of the prime "metrics that matter."

Dan Neely is chief executive officer at Networked Insights.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at

<P>Dan Neely serves as Networked Insights&acute; Chief Executive Officer.&nbsp; Dan brings to Networked Insights over 10 years of entrepreneurial, management, operational and with technology, manufacturing and services...

View full biography


to leave comments.

Commenter: Dan Neely

2010, November 18

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. This gives me the chance to articulate the argument around playing to a highly engaged audience. These are all good questions:

First, you're right: engagement is defined differently from company to company; that doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't valuable. Marketers have been looking to measure engagement for some time, because highly engaged audiences —and highly engaging content -- are prized. Consider the labs that track participants' eye movements as they watch TV shows — to track engagement. This is a completely different, but valid, metric for engagement.

The audience online is looking more and more like the audience anywhere in the country — or many parts of the world. We track 300 million users, 180 million of them in the US. We feel confident that our sample is representative. And traditional research has more biases: leading survey questions, biased focus group moderators, phone surveys that don't reach cell phones, and more.

Being more engaged with a show leads to more views because the highly engaged audience is more likely watching in real-time and less likely to skip ads. But the best way to encourage ads being viewed by this sort of audience is branded integration: get close to the content you know they are passionate about and some of that passion — and social lift as your brand is discussed online — will rub off on you.

Finally, thank you for the article on engagement levels and ads. We'll be giving this a good look. My main takeaway is that it's important to understand the content and context that an ad is placed within. Social media analytics will help advertisers do just that.


Commenter: Gowthaman Ragothaman

2010, November 18

Interesting view.

Commenter: Mark Lester

2010, November 15

Hi Dan,

I think that this an interesting idea and I entirely agree that we always need to look beyond flat reach numbers.

However, for me the problem with using engagement metrics to do this is that there is a hundred different ways to define engagement and we don't know how much impact most of them actually have on sales.

Using social conversation as a metric to predict increased sales impact from a TV commercial seems to me to have a number of flaws:
1) It might be more a reflection of hitting a technologically savvy or young demographic than an engaged audience
2) Being more engaged in a show does not neccessarily equate to being more engaged in the ads
3) Some research suggests that ads may be at their most effective at a mid, rather than high, level of engagement (Tavassoli, Schultz and Fitzsimmons)

All this suggests to me is that we need to do is better link ad exposure directly to sales. This would hopefully, simply resolve most of the complex questions above.