‘Cracking the Code’ to Put Online Dollars Where They Belong

Oct 29, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A new company says it has found a different way to measure online social media, and in doing so has found another way to look at how involved viewers are with television shows.
Networked Insights, based in Madison, Wis., says it measures not just the 15% of people who post content online at social sites, but also the other 85% who are interacting with that content by reading, ratings sharing, linking or inviting. To gather data for this “Measuring the Social” report, Networked Insights tapped more than 17,000 social media and social networking sites, which registered 3.5 million interactions per day and more than 120 million unique users, and analyzed all interactions and post content around TV shows.
Learning what’s going on in social marketing is increasingly important to marketers, who are looking to find new ways to find engaged consumers online.
“Arguably the digital space is a more efficient way of spending,” Networked Insights founder and CEO Dan Neely says. “Certainly with our clients we’re seeing a massive shift of dollars to the online world and the online advertising space.”
The company chose to show off how its system works with a “Measuring the Social” report focused on broadcast television shows. It compares the shows Nielsen reports as the most watched during the week of Sept. 22 with the ones generating the most conversations online. Turns out the lists are very different.
Nielsen’s top show, “Grey’s Anatomy,” is just eighth with Networked Insights. Top 10 Nielsen shows “Desperate Housewives,” “Sunday Night Football” “Heroes,” “The OT” and “The Office” did not make the Networked Insights list at all.
At the top of the Networked Insights list is “Two and a Half Men,” which is No. 5 on Nielsen. Mr. Neely says “Men” viewers like to e-mail quotes from each episode to friends, creating a viral effect.
On Networked Insights’ Top 10 list, but not on Nielsen’s, are “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Cold Case” and “Family Guy.”
“If you’re just using the Nielsen results to look at how you think about placing your [advertising] spend, you’re ultimately going to be flawed because we need to take account of the different activities that are taking place on the Web,” he said.
Mr. Neely said his company works with large brands, agencies and media companies, though he declined to name clients. It works with the client to figure out where conversations are going on, and how to become involved in those discussions. If advertisers are going to use social media, this type of more detailed measurement will be in demand, he says.
“We need a way to understand all of that activity,” he said. “They need to be able to understand all those places where that’s happening, and they need to be able to understand the language that they’re using. They need to understand who’s influential.”
Shows with a lot of conversation surrounding them tend to have more engaged viewers—and those engaged viewers are also likely to be paying attention to ads.
“If you know there’s a high level of engagement around specific topics having to do with ‘Two and a Half Men’ on [Web site] Television Without Pity, or there’s a high level of engagement on The Knot, we know we can place advertising there as well.”
Not only that, the new data can tell advertisers how many people they can expect to reach with social media, and not just how many they touched after the campaign’s run.
“We believe we’ve cracked the code with regard to how do you actually measure this stuff,” Mr. Neely said. “It’s been a trial-and-error approach. We’ve said we can actually tell you where to place and when to place, because this is where they’re going to be and this is what they’re going to be talking about.”


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