Bluefin Signals provides two main ways of measuring an audience’s reaction. The first, called Response Level, tallies up the number of people commenting on a given show. It converts this to a 10-point scale so that people can assess that number in relation to other shows aired at other times. The second, Response Share, determines how much attention a show got while it was on the air. Bluefin found that the NBA finals got about 45 percent of the response to television on social media on the night of May 24, compared with only 6.1 percent for American Idol. Bluefin Signals allows users to get a finer look at the data, by comparing shows within the same genre.
Thai says Bluefin’s product is most useful for assessing whether less popular shows are a good advertising buy. Many of these have similar audience numbers, so social media response could make certain shows stand out. He adds that eventually Bluefin can even reveal which shows get the best response to particular types of advertisements on social media.
A product like Bluefin’s could help fill in some key gaps for advertisers, says Jon Kleinberg, a professor of computer science at Cornell University who studies the social and information networks that underpin the Web and online media. “One thing that has made advertising work very powerfully in domains such as Internet search is that you know a lot about the person receiving the ad–what they’re doing at the moment, through their query or other activities on the site, and sometimes what they’ve done in the past as well,” Kleinberg says. “For other domains–broadcast media such as TV, for example–it’s traditionally been harder to form a picture of the ad’s recipients, at the moment they receive it.” Bluefin has the opportunity to “fill in the missing details” by measuring and reporting how audiences react to broadcast content in real time.
Bluefin is studying other fine-grained data, such as the success of commercials when paired with particular shows, and it plans to release additional products and features that make use of this sort of data.