Twitter acquires social TV analytics firm Bluefin

Twitter is buying social analytics company Bluefin Labs in what’s reported to be its biggest acquisition yet.

Founded in 2011, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Bluefin monitors social media to provide real-time analytics of how social media users respond to TV shows and ads.

“We track TV ad airings on 60 major US networks while simultaneously tracking the commentary about brands and their commercials.  Our sophisticated algorithms (created and updated by our machine learning experts who possess batman-like qualities) draw affinities between television shows and networks, to brands and lifestyles,” says Bluefin’s director of product management, brand products, Sara Radkiewic, in a recent blog post.

“In other words, our system knows that people who talk about the show Glee in social media also talk about the brands Proactiv and L’Oreal. Consider the rest of the TV ecosystem we track – shows, networks, and advertisers – and the result is a massive data set, chock-full of valuable insights that can be used in multiple campaign phases, from media planning to optimization.”

The company lists Fox, Discovery and NBC Universal amongst its clients, along with many advertising agencies.

The takeover, according to Business Insider, would be Twitter’s biggest purchase yet – possibly costing the company as much as $100 million, way more than the $40 million it forked out for TweetDeck two years ago.

But if all goes well, it could be worth it. The deal would give Twitter a way of justifying the worth of its ads to clients, helping it reach its stated ambition of pulling in $1 billion in advertising this year.

The company’s long been aware that much of its traffic comes as users gossip about TV programs – not just major events like the weekend’s Superbowl, but standard weeknight fare too. The company’s recently stepped up its focus on television by hiring a number of TV executives.