Nielsen And McKinsey Form JV To Measure, Analyze Social Media

The Nielsen Company and McKinsey & Co. have formed global joint venture called NM Incite that seeks to marry the former’s audience ratings expertise with the latter’s consultancy business in the service of advising companies on social media research. The new entity will be built upon Nielsen’s existing BuzzMetrics offering, which attempts to capture conversations and trends making their way through social media channels like blogs and community sites. With the introduction of NM Incite, BuzzMetrics will become a subsidiary of NM Incite. Terms of the JV weren’t disclosed.

With online advertising’s recovery seemingly set, the race to track and measure audience attitudes and behavior across social networks has gathered steam. Nielsen has been working to get a better set of metrics on “earned media” — e.g., chatter about brands across social net sites like Facebook and Twitter — even as it, and its rivals like Quantcast and comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), compete to become the standard measurement for website activity in general.

In terms of measuring the social media as brand driver, Nielsen struck a partnership with Facebook last fall. The two released a study two months ago attempting to demonstrate “brand lift” associated with campaigns on Facebook.

While Nielsen seems to be doing fine on its own, McKinsey will provide an extra layer on top of the data Nielsen collects and analyzes. In particular, the management consultancy will offer its guidance on marketing and sales, as well as organizing and running business operations in areas such as digital marketing, ROI, word-of-mouth and the influences that go into consumers’ purchasing habits.

More details in this release, along with some quick factoids on social media usage such as “Twitter has a unique U.S. audience of 19.1 million visitors (May 2010), growing more than 1,520% in the last two years (May 2010 v. May 2008).”