Twitter announced Tuesday that it had acquired Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge, Mass.–based software company that analyzes online conversations about television programming and sells its findings to advertisers.
Twitter has not disclosed details of the acquisition but analysts estimate that the purchase price ranges from $70 million to $100 million, making it the largest acquisition in the company's history.
Bluefin, which originated in MIT Media Lab's Cognitive Machine Group, uses a set of algorithms to identify and analyze patterns in social media commentary, which it maps out in a "TV genome." The TV genome, Bluefin explains on its Web site, "is essentially a huge dataset that quantifies and organizes all social media conversations about TV."
Brands and networks use Bluefin's findings for insight into targeting their online and offline advertising. According to a Nielsen report, 85 percent of mobile device owners use their tablet or smartphone while watching TV at least once per month and 40 percent do so daily.
Twitter's announcement follows the news in December that it had partnered with Nielsen to develop the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, a social TV measurement based on Nielsen's SocialGuide platform.
The acquisition is expected to give Twitter a stronger foothold in second-screen advertising, i.e., ads on tablets and smartphones that complement what is shown on television, and a new revenue stream.
"We believe that Bluefin's data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV," Ali Rowghani, Twitter's chief operating officer, wrote in a blog post.
Twitter will allow Bluefin to continue serving its existing customers, Rowghani continues, but it will not sell Bluefin's product suite beyond the existing contracts.