Contrary to popular opinion, the internet did not kill TV. In fact, social media is spurring the growth of television to the point where Americans are watching more television than ever before. Just like it revitalized the dying world of email marketing, social media is transforming TV to become a new entity. This new Social TV refers to the technologies surrounding television that promote social interaction related to TV program content.
Without a doubt, social TV is going to explode as advertisers see a gold mine in target audience and extended program content with a more engaged audience.
2nd Screen Back Channels
What is creating this marriage between social media and TV is the role that back channels or second screens play in engaging TV viewers on the web. i.e., Viewers of TV program content (including ads) are sharing their insights with their social communities. Some research shows that at least 40% of tablet or smartphone owners are using their devices daily while they’re watching TV.
Nielson points out that 57% of TV viewers use the web simultaneously. Much of this time, they claim, is spent discussing the show or advertising they are viewing at the time. And since a lot of people multitask while watching TV, second screen app developers are jumping on the bandwagon of this huge market opportunity.
Besides app developers, TV advertisers now see a gold mine of opportunities stemming from this “social lift” in the form of social voting, better targeted ads and post-view content sharing. The latter refers to a whole host of social gaming and TV program features that go beyond the broadcasted content.
Advertisers are also focused on an engaged audience that they never had before. i.e., These new social impressions are amplifying their marketing messages with a more viral media than they could ever expect from even smart TV.
In his Social TV Book, Giacomo Summa attributes this growing interest to the following:
“…Television’s influence on culture and society has been widely acknowledged for many years. On the other hand, with the diffusion of the web and of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, used in concert with television, the TV experience has become much more interactive and it is now impossible not to acknowledge that television has also become a driving force for social interaction. Furthermore, the parallel diffusion of internet videos and user generated content, fostered by YouTube in particular, has provided society with a different approach to media and television in particular: consumers have also become producers. Twitter and Facebook have influenced some of TV’s fundamental properties such as liveness, character centric storylines and flow and to what the YouTube phenomena means for television…”
- Giacomo Summa, Social TV Book
Many analysts now believe that the social connection is becoming nearly as important as the content itself, in part because this back channel amplifies and spreads the content well beyond the life of a broadcasted program. In fact, the worldwide market for Social TV is expected to reach $250 billion by 2017! That is the same amount spent worldwide today on all television advertising.
In some cases, advertisers are leveraging the “second screen” to drive synched and deeper brand engagement. My own study of over 3300 commercials re-casted on YouTube, for example, showed nearly 2 million comments and 5 million likes registered across 3 billion views of these recast commercials. You can imagine the data gleaned from these comments that would never be disclosed in the best of focus groups or advertising round table discussions.
Recently, this second screen engagement has reached millions of viewers in a wave of movie trailers. The Game of Thrones trailer, for example, reached 22 million views in less than 4 months of its release.
Twitter and TV Advertising
Nearly all the major social media platforms are moving into this social TV backchannel (e.g., Twitter, Facebook and Google+) with Twitter accounting for 80% of the chatter. Following the massive amount of tweeting during Super Bowl commercials, Award Shows and Game of Thrones, social media fanatics are accustomed to being heard for the first time.
Shows are even known to feature backstage scenery, one-on-one dialogue with celebrities and other exclusive content for those engaged with their programs or ads. For more information on how Twitter, in particular, has spurred the development of Social TV, check out The Evolution of Social TV and Inbound Marketing.
Social Media Engagement and Research
But simply creating a Twitter hashtag or placing a Facebook “Like” button near your content is not what is stirring the enthusiasm across the broadcasting industry. Where many networks and advertising sponsors hope to capitalize on Social TV is in the area of advertising research and advocacy. It is here that extended second screen content is reexamined for a more targeted ad placement. In some cases, the resulting research has led to cancelled programs or drastic shifts in networks or programs featuring the ads.
For examples of how this is done, check out Professor Shawndra Hill’s The Value of Social for TV well as Stacy Shepatin’s preview of her “Social TV” book. Stacy describes how the rapid growth of portable devices, social interaction and real-time program advertising feedback provides a level of advertising research never made possible in the era of Nielson Ratings and focus group research.
As both discussed further by Shawndra and Stacy, we not only have mastered the art of social voting on shows like American Idol, we have ways of correlating show and advertising popularity with the volume and sentiment of social commentary occurring before, during and after show episodes. This drastically improves network show creation while providing advertisers with significantly greater amounts of target audience demographic and interest-based targeting. i.e., We are seeing an emergence of context marketing.
But even on a smaller scale of live engagement, viewer commentaries posted on Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Facebook are now being data mined as ways of measuring social impressions. This data can give brands the ability to hyper target at an individual user level based on that person’s favorite TV shows and how they engage with them.
To some advertisers, this is even more important than the traditional TV ratings as it reveals more about viewer sentiment through comments. Encouraging to many advertisers focused on this back channel is the growing number of these comments that viewers now regularly post.
Social TV research also provides an alternative to the guesswork that goes into show releases. More importantly, it sets the stage for audience creation of future storylines and ad preferences.
Finally, social ratings are used in conjunction with TV ratings for advertisers to gauge how likely their program content is to resonate with audiences. In particular, they are now focused on social impressions that indicate an “engaged” audience’s likelihood to view and promote the content
Context Marketing through Social TV
And as advertisers garner more of these insights on their receiving audiences, they hope to capitalize on the emerging trend towards Context Marketing.
“…In the social TV era, your ability to listen and garner feedback has risen to an entirely different level. Today, more than one billion people worldwide share their insights and opinions, clues to purchasing behavior, and likes and dislikes online. Instead of relying on episodic and delayed opinions, you can capitalize on trends by taking advantage of real-time interests, attitudes and desire…”
- Networked Insights, Social TV Survival Guide
Imagine, for example, knowing who the audience is through synced social media activity as well as what parts of the program content or advertisements appealed to them. Moreover, imagine content that is curated based on audience popularity as in the case where audiences even select your cast or story endings?
So how do you think social TV will shape our approach to marketing? Do you believe it will be effective in building viewer engagement? Will it force broadcasters and advertisers to rethink their target audience strategies? And will it allow greater context marketing?
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- The Future Of Television: Exploring Marketing Opportunities with Social TV & Second Screen Apps
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