Social media + TV = What, exactly? A new study hopes to find out

By Jim O'Neill on Jul 18 2014 at 4:45 AM
Facebook and Nielsen are partnering to study social media effect on TV

Does social media have an effect on TV viewing? Or is it the other way around? Does sharing a line from a just-watched comedy on TV, or recounting with your Facebook friends a scene as it unfolds on your favorite drama have an effect on viewership?

Not everyone agrees a social network is all that influential in determining what you might want to watch… or vice versa.

But, there’s just something about the second screen and social media that TV can’t quite ignore.

That’s part of the reason Facebook and TV ratings firm Nielsen are partnering on a new study.

The other, of course, is Nielsen’s struggle to get a handle on what and how much TV is being watched on connected devices other than traditional TV sets.

Facebook will feed Nielsen anonymized and aggregated data – like age and gender – about users watching TV on their connected devices.

Nielsen is hoping to get a better picture of second screen activity and social media use. They’ll take the data and try to correlate it to existing metrics.

Facebook recently was at the center of a brouhaha involving the social media giant manipulating user posts to track their moods.

This time around, the data, Facebook says, will be kept private.

“We have worked with Nielsen under strong privacy principles,” Facebook said in a statement. “We don't believe that audience measurement systems should be used to adjust targeting; they should only be used for measurement. This protects the privacy of people viewing ads and ensures that both advertisers and publishers have the same information about the audiences.”

Nielsen, concerned that its work with Facebook and its user data might open up another can of worms, also laid down the law with its own statement that read it “takes nothing more seriously than consumer privacy and we have a well-established reputation for protecting privacy spanning several decades. Consumer privacy is a top priority for us and we work with leading privacy advocates to ensure our products meet or exceed industry privacy standards.”

There you go.

By the way, this isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together.

Back in 2010, they cooperated on an advertising effectiveness study, “Brandlift,” across 14 Facebook campaigns. The study looked at how paid and earned media combined to affect brand awareness.

Follow me on Twitter @JimONeillMedia


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