For example, Bluefin analyzed recent airings of Geico commercials. The company found that the ads aired most frequently on NBC, Spike TV, and TNT, in that order. Geico itself knows that. But Bluefin went further and determined that the best responses from social media came when the ads aired on Fox, Cartoon Network, and CNBC, in that order. Breaking down audience by demographic can also yield intriguing insights. Bluefin’s analysis determined that commercials for Axe body spray—racy ads that seem designed purely to appeal to men—were more likely to be discussed online by women, and that these discussions were generally positive.
Entertainment companies and advertisers are increasingly interested in analyzing the information available on social networks. “The real-time Web is an incredibly valuable indicator of what people are watching on TV and how engaged they are with it,” says Alex Iskold, CEO and founder of Adaptive Blue, the company that makes the entertainment-oriented social network GetGlue. There’s a huge volume of this information, too. In April, his company’s users posted millions of comments, replies, check-ins, and votes and shared more than 50,000 of them with Facebook and Twitter every day. This new source of information “needs to be taken into consideration,” he says, when allocating ad dollars and assessing the popularity of shows.
Bluefin may face competition from Nielsen, the traditional giant of TV ratings. Radha Subramanyam, Nielsen’s senior vice president for media and advertising insights and analytics, says the company sees social media as “a significant area of upheaval and importance.” The key is in connecting information about television with information about social media, she adds: “It’s not that easy, and it’s not that simple. It takes a lot of sophistication.” Nielsen is working on bringing its various data sources together to go beyond simple buzz measurements and sentiment analysis, though it has not yet announced its new strategies.
Bluefin is hoping to offer value partly through scale. “What’s easy to do is take 10 or 20 very popular shows,” Roy says. What’s much harder, he adds, is to get and process information about every show on every channel. Even harder is to add data on the advertisements.
In April, the company ranked Fox’s broadcast network as the most engaging network, when judged by audience response per show airing. The rest of the top 10: ABC, MTV, CBS, TNT, BET, NBC, CW, Cartoon Network, and Bravo.