Nielsen defends not releasing Twitter subscriber numbers and denies dropping price on new TV Ratings tool

Scott Gillham


Audience measurement company Nielsen has defended the decision not to release the total number of Australian Twitter users as part of its the newly launched Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings (NTTR), after media buyers questioned the scale of the new metric.

Scott Gillham, head of NTTR also described industry rumours it had dropped the price of the ratings by 30 per cent after just two TV networks, Ten and Nine, signed up to the new service, as “inaccurate”.

The new measurement, launched last week, looks at the number of Australians tweeting about television shows and how many people those tweets reach, with Twitter aiming to take use them to encourage advertisers and networks to spend money on marketing with them.

Gillham told Mumbrella while the audience number looked at only Australian accounts, it was up to the social media platform to release the number of its “universe”.

“That’s obviously a Twitter number and I think it has been reported that they don’t do country breakdowns, so that number is not available in the market at the moment,” he added.

Twitter has consistently refused to release a public number on its active Australian users, with agency sources telling Mumbrella that its sales team is using a number of around 4m users. However academic studies which put the Australian figure much lower at 2.8m. 

A sample of the new Twitter ratings

A sample of the new Twitter ratings (click to enlarge)

When question on whether the new metric was flawed because it did not reveal the total size of the audience to subscribers Gillham said the new IAB mobile panels set to be launched later this year will give media buyers and TV networks a better “indicative” sense of the total sample “given 90 per cent of people who are on Twitter are accessing it via mobile devices”.

Challenged on whether buyers and their clients might want to know what percentage of the total pool the figures in the NTTR represented he argued that at the moment people were focused on measuring the TV audience alone, adding the audience was sizeable enough.

“I think at the moment we will be able to measure how many people are viewing tweets as related to TV,” he said.

“If you look at something like I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and you see that more than 150,000 people are seeing tweets related to that program, that’s are very healthy number.”

The new boss of NTTR rejected suggestions that the new product was struggling to get take up, despite only Networks Nine and Ten having come on board.

When asked if the company had been charging around $100,000 when it first announced it would launch the product he commented: “I can’t comment on anything that is commercial-in-confidence.”

While multiple network sources have now told Mumbrella that the NTTR annual subscription figure has dropped to around $70,000 a year Nielsen said that figure “is inaccurate”.

Gillham argued that other social platform analysis tools were hamstrung by privacy restrictions and that Twitter, despite having smaller audiences than the likes of Facebook and Instagram, was the best platform for tracking TV second screen habits.

“There are a couple of different things with Twitter that separate it from the other social platforms,” he said.

“It is a completely open platform, it is public, we can actually mine that data in real time conversation that is happening around the linear viewing of airtime.

“The difficultly of Facebook is that most of that content is private you can’t get into it.”

Nic Christensen 


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