In 2012 Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, developed a partnership with Twitter, which launched Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. This was the first-ever measurement of total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter. Last week Nielsen announced a similar working partnership with Facebook.
Facebook will begin sending Nielsen anonymized information on the ages and genders of viewers of specific television shows this fall. So how does that work, you may ask. If users have accessed Facebook on their mobile devices, the social network will be able to gather data on the shows they watch on their mobile devices and provide Nielsen with viewership information. This will be a “double-blind” approach, meaning Facebook receives information about the television shows in a numerical form, so they don’t know which shows are which, and Nielsen receives the viewer information in the form of aggregated data.
“We have worked with Nielsen under strong privacy principles. We don’t believe that audience measurement systems should be used for targeting; they should only be used for measurement,” a Facebook spokesperson told Digital Trends. “This protects the privacy of people viewing ads and ensures both advertisers and publishers have the same information about the audiences.”
Historically, Nielsen measurements were done through the installation of special meters recording a household’s television habits. However, with the increasing use of computers, smartphones and tablets to watch shows, Nielsen wasn’t getting a complete sense of viewing habits.
Partnering with Facebook is the latest in the string of partnerships Nielsen has been forming to establish a better sense of Internet users’ online viewing habits. In addition to Twitter, last year Nielsen partnered with YouTube adding “online campaign ratings” on some selected advertisements. This later extended to include Google DoubleClick, Google’s online ad firm, to help create more opportunities for YouTube stars to make money by allowing them access to a larger pool of advertisers.