As part of their efforts to evolve with the growth of Social Media, Nielsen has announced the commercial launch of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. These ratings will allow advertisers to compare traditional TV ratings with the level of engagement that is occurring on Twitter. This is the first measurement of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversations on Twitter. Nielsen wanted to officially launch this service at a time when TV channels are looking to expand their second screen and social media efforts.

Nielsen Twitter TV ratings will be measuring the number of people tweeting about a particular program, as well as the number of people viewing those Tweets. Initial analysis of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings reveals that the Twitter TV audience for an episode is, on average, 50 times larger than the authors who are generating Tweets. For example, if 2,000 people are Tweeting about a program, 100,000 people are seeing those Tweets. This multiplier varies across programs, with early data showing the ratio of the audience to the authors generally decreases as the number of authors for an episode increases. This is due to the increasing overlap of followers for shows with a large number of Twitter authors, where a single follower is increasingly likely to follow multiple authors.

After the first release of Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings top 10 list, many advertisers are left with questions on how to evaluate these ratings. Is there a difference between traditional TV ratings and the activity then generated on Twitter? The number one program listed on the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings was the Breaking Bad finale. It was the most tweeted about show in America, but the traditional ratings didn't even make the top 10 list. However, the Nielsen Twitter TV ratings still offer networks and advertisers a way to gauge the relationship between viewership and Twitter traffic. Knowing the volume of Tweets is just the beginning of measurement, and Nielsen has opened the doors for advertisers and marketers to evaluate the numbers and expand on the research of social media habits.