The Future of Social TV and Television

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The Future of Social TV and Television

Social TV Activity Today

  • The number of television and Social TV viewers using ubiquitous second screens (laptops, smartphones and tabs) to interact with television is at an all time high. HBO Connect is perhaps the most innovative second screen application to date.
  • Sales of Smart TV sets (Social TV sets really), outfitted with easily accesed social networks and social applications, are rising sharply.
  • Game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation can access social networks and feature their own Xbox and Playstation social networks as well.
  • We’re starting to see Pay-TV Platform Operators newer STBs (Set Top Boxes) outfitted with social networks and social applications that essentially turn them into Social TV STBs.
  • And then there’s the assortment of boxes like Boxee and other STBs that connect to the Internet, social networks and social applications through TVs.

All of the above is making Social TV readily accessible to users/viewers today and dramatically reshaping our behavior patterns around watching traditional TV. What we watch, how we watch it, how we’re influenced by advertising and product placement, how we influence our friends around consumption of content and ads; all of this is dramatically impacting TV as we know it.

Social TV Drivers

The TV and Pay-TV Advertising market is currently worth over US$400 Billion worldwide. And TV Broadcasters/Networks as well as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many other social networks, and the Internet TV crowd including Google, Apple and Microsoft — are all going after it via Social TV It’s also quite possible that some social networks will ultimately morph into Social TV channels. In fact, Facebook has grown so large that it currently has a user base in every top TV Broadcast market that’s larger than the top Broadcasters have in those same markets.

Big brands are driving enormous interest in brands and sales of products by combining TV advertising with social marketing. For example, the USA Today/Facebook Super Bowl Admeter was a new web and mobile experience that went live on USA Today’s website as well as Facebook Brand Pages during Super Bowl 2012. It allowed Facebook users to view, rate and share Super Bowl commercials throughout and after the game, on the web or via their mobile devices. There were just under a billion earned impressions generated during the 91 Super Bowl Commercials. Thats a lot of social activity. To note, the underlying application for Admeter was built on the Involver platform.

“Social media has made TV a social experience again. We’re very interested in facilitating conversation − tapping into the power of social conversations across different programs to give viewers the power to connect with each other and build our relationships with our fans.”
-Gayle Weiswasser, VP, Social Media Communications, Discovery Communications

Weiswasser is right about the social experience. But it’s a much different social experience that favors the (somewhat) time-shifted communications of tweeting, posting and email conversations over live face-to-face socializing with friends and family in front of the traditional TV set. So, Social TV is a different flavor of social in that sense. Perhaps more social in quantity and less social in quality is one way of looking at Social TV. Of course, you also have more opportunities to be social with Social TV.

“The future isn’t either traditional or digital: it’s a feedback loop between the two. Television fans want to get involved and be counted. It’s how creative we are in engaging those fans – and keeping them connected even as they may move away from the traditional network – that will determine how potent and profitable we will be in the future.” -Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting

“The rise in the number of people that discover our content via social networks like Facebook and Twitter is significant.” -Philip Bourchier O’Ferrall, SVP, Viacom

Reilly and Bouchier nailed it. But at least for the foreseeable future, Social TV will be a work in progress of traditional TV and Social formats forever seeking a path to the ultimate integrated design.

Motivation to Advance Social TV

Social Brands are using social metrics (an order-of-magnitude better than TV metrics) and clearly see how and why their social channel activity adds value to their TV advertising activity (and vice-versa) and, in-fact, helps their TV advertising buy strategy. [Stay tuned for one of our next articles that dives into social metrics — volume, conversation, sentiment, and more — as it relates to Social TV.] And the value goes way beyond this. Think of the benefit to the producers of content — they’re able to understand what shows, scenes, actors, and just about anything else you can think of, works or doesn’t work, essentially in real-time. So, Social TV is good for all stakeholders and to the extent that Social Brands can get more value out of their TV advertising dollars, they will potentially invest even more in advertising which will help drive the growth of Social TV.

TV used to be all about eyeballs. But Mass Media, once dominated by Broadcast Media, is no longer the domain that it once was. It’s been invaded by New Media and Social Media. In the process, maybe unexpectedly, TV has become even more massive and is now supported by viable, growing social communities built around shows, brands, broadcasters, social networks, and other industry participants. So, the future of TV will still be about eyeballs — but Social TV eyeballs. And the future of Social TV will be advanced and shaped by all industry stakeholders that are focused on that.

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NEW Facebook Timeline — A Billion Channels of Reality TV?

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NEW Facebook Timeline

NEW Facebook Timeline? This is your life.

We all know the phrase. It’s a throwback to a 1950s television show that walked through the life stories of its guests in front of friends, family… and a national television audience.

The odd part about the original This Is Your Life, the part many people don’t realize, is that the show was oddly, awkwardly personal in a way that modern-day reality TV doesn’t even come close to. There was the episode, for example, when one of the men who flew the plane that dropped The Bomb over Hiroshima was greeted by a surprise guest: A Japanese survivor. It was a tense television moment, to say the least.

Now, as the Facebook Timeline officially rolls out, users argue loudly amongst themselves over whether or not the social media version of “This is your life” is a good thing – another social networking innovation from Facebook – or a bad thing – another invasion, or potential invasion, of our privacy. Some people are saying that Facebook Timeline is just too personal, too convenient for online stalkers, too creepy to publicly lay out your entire life, together with all its best moments, its missteps, and its mundanity.

NEW Facebook Timeline? Am I About to Be Owned? Do I Care?

Our tendencies towards compulsive voyeurism and unabashed curiosity about the personal lives of others – not to mention the compulsiveness with which we pour over, analyze, and revisit our own life experiences — have never been so easily fulfilled. However, thanks to Facebook Timeline, not only can we visually conceptualize our life as a series of interconnected events, we can also see, within the Facebook Timeline, what our friends are listening to, cooking, reading, watching, and what their latest running route was.

Our ability to see what our friends are cooking and where they’re running, of course, are all conveniently provided to us through free apps by the brands that want to sell to us. The question for Facebook users becomes, “Does it bother me that all these apps have subtle marketing messages behind them?”

The answer Facebook suggests is that, no, it shouldn’t bother you at all. It’s natural to want to see what your friends are up to. It’s natural to want to know what movies they’ve seen recently and what books they’re reading. Facebook is wagering that the majority of their users will favor convenience and connection over philosophical issues with Facebook Timeline.

NEW Facebook Timeline? No, I Don’t Care.

Facebook is almost definitely right. Consumers have been using brands as a form of self-expression for decades; Facebook Timeline just makes that self-expression easily accessible in real-time. Facebook users who sympathize with Occupy Wall Street might complain about Facebook Timeline and its emphasis on integrating brands and our personal lives for a while, but sooner or later even Occupiers will want to share with their activist friends what brand of sleeping bag they’re using to keep warm as they protest the meteoric rise of big business.

Speaking of brands, there’s another question Facebook Timeline raises: Once the majority of Facebook users have adopted Timeline, how will it impact your own social media marketing? Here are a few things to keep in mind.



1. Be Included in the App Revolution

For just a moment, take your sales hat off and put your connectivity hat on. People use Facebook to connect, relax, and have fun. How can your brand create an app that helps them to do that?

Netflix, for example, has just about gotten Congress to allow them to launch a Facebook app that will use people’s friends’ movie preferences to make movie recommendations. In other words, it will be exactly what Facebook has been trying to accomplish with its advertising, but since users will voluntarily share their information, these apps might just clear the “privacy issues” hurdle.

2. Expect Facebook Timeline to Come to Brand Pages

Facebook hasn’t yet rolled out Facebook Timeline for brand pages, but once they do – and they probably will – that is one bandwagon you’ll want to jump on right away.

Why? For starters, Facebook Timeline puts a huge photo right at the top of the profile page. The 849 x 312 pixel cover photo of a Facebook Timeline page gives brands a chance to feature the perfect product shot or clever banner in a way that the existing Facebook pages do not.

3. You’d Better Get Interesting

The new Facebook Timeline format increases the likelihood that a brand’s self-promoting posts will never be seen by fans. Anything Facebook algorithms deem uninteresting will get relegated to the Ticker. Posts such as videos, photos, links, and content that earns lots of likes are far more likely to reach to reach the eyes of fans.

* * *

Facebook, along with the Internet in general, have rapidly changed how we think about and interact with our friends and our world. Back in the early days of blogging, some people asked, “Why in the world would anyone want to make their private thoughts available for everyone to read?” Today, sharing private moments as encapsulated in photos or posts is so second-nature that almost no one questions it any longer. Facebook Timeline is just the latest evolution in this trend of making our personal lives increasingly public. Though consumers might complain now, brands who want to succeed will find smart ways to use Facebook Timeline to tell their own stories and offer help as fans tell theirs.

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What do you think about the new Facebook Timeline? Share your thoughts below.

Google Has Spoiled Consumers

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No doubt these “un – Google – like” words in Dickens classic, somber novel, The Tale of Two Cities, echo the sentiments of many marketing professionals as they face the new digital era with both excitement, but also trepidation. For others in the creative industry, however, a more appropriate Dickensian title for the online era would be Great Expectations.

Google App Sphere

The ones who are adapting successfully to the new digital terrain have realized three important facts about the evolution of the consumer culture:

  1. What the consumer expects has changed
  2. Where the consumer lives has changed
  3. What the consumer wants hasn’t changed at all

So, what the consumer expects from Google and others has changed. . . right?

Point six of the Google ten-point corporate philosophy is “You can make money without doing evil”, usually shortened to the famous slogan, “Don’t be evil”.

Google has spoiled consumers, and in so doing has left what might be a permanent mark on the online landscape: Google gave us everything, and it did it for free. Money seemed almost like an afterthought at Google; the genius computer geeks at Google’s cozy headquarters seemed encouraged to make it now, monetize it later. As a result, we now have Gmail (free); Gchat (free); Google Maps (free); Google Calendar (free); YouTube (not originally Google, but free); and now Chrome (free).

It’s not that Google was the first internet company to give us things for free; the whole internet revolution was founded on principles of openness and collaboration. But for a while there before Google became the giant to beat, companies like Yahoo!, AOL, and Microsoft looked like they were drumming their evil fingers together with machinations on letting us play, but making us pay. Like drug dealers, the internet of the late ’90s was starting to become a place where you could get your first hit for free, but had to pay for everything after that.

The consumer now expects the same things from other companies that it has come to expect everywhere online: fun, interactive products, no paying.

Static, talk-at-the-customer marketing campaigns no longer capture the consumer’s attention. Today’s consumer expects interaction, utility, and free apps to boot. An ad has to be more than just a pretty picture with a clever slogan; it needs to be a tool they can actually do something with. Witness the successful Olympus campaign offering the latest cool – the first augmented-reality 3-D camera demo. The campaign drove up sales 55%.

Google operates on the premise that where the consumer lives has changed

FacebookIt used to be that if you wanted to reach 85% of America with a marketing message, you could buy a prime time TV spot, run an ad, and be done with it. While many consumers still live inside that marketing channel, they are migrating away from TV to laptops and mobile devices at rates that alarm old-school marketing companies.

Today’s marketing campaign cannot treat the internet as an afterthought. Facebook is as much a mass-media marketing channel as television, considering that nearly one in five of everyone on the planet with internet access is on it. Reaching consumers where they live means knowing the digital address(es) of the target demographic, and going there to meet them.

So, what the consumer wants (from Google and others) hasn’t changed at all or has it?

For all that marketing is changing, marketing also isn’t changing at all. Consumers who live online don’t want to be subjected to cheesy gimmicks any more than magazine readers and television viewers do. When it comes right down to it, wins in marketing, including online hat tricks, are still all about clever, creative content.

Marketers shouldn’t ever forget that everyone’s still talking about the Old Spice Man on a Horse ads not because they sparked a social media bonfire but because they were smart and funny. All the blogging, tweeting, and “liking” / “sharing” won’t matter if the content is, well, lame. Furthermore, even the most successful social media campaign won’t make up for a bad product – think Snakes on a Plane.

From this point of view, old-school ad execs can breathe easy and know that there’s still hope for them yet. The part of advertising that brings the best creative minds together and creates a new concept that captures the audience’s attention hasn’t changed; it is the form those ideas take, together with the way it is delivered, that has. Google has helped to change that.

Marketing in the Future is like Sex: Only the losers will have to pay for it [Web Marketing]

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To traditional advertising agencies, staring into the face of the world of Internet marketing must be like looking into Godzilla’s gaping maw. Already, Godzilla has gobbled up newspaper advertising: PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in June 2010 that the Internet passed newspapers by as the second-largest advertising medium in the US.

Internet Marketing GodzillaWith Newspaper’s bloody guts strewn across the walls, Television must now be screaming. Godzilla already ate Television in the UK; if new-school creative agencies have anything to say about it, Television as a primary advertising venue will be the next morsel on Godzilla’s menu.

Internet Marketing Thought Leaders

Just like a damsel in distress, Andy Nibley, former CEO of old-school ad agency giant Marsteller, cried out, “First the news business, then the music business, then advertising. Is there any industry I get involved in that doesn’t get destroyed by digital technology? (Source: New York Observer).

“Marketing in the future is like sex,” Jon Bond says, the cofounder of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners. “Only the losers will have to pay for it ( Internet Marketing ).” (Source: MissionParadox).

What Jon Bond understands about Internet Marketing might be what Andy Nibley realized too late. In a marketing environment in which “going viral” is the catchphrase of the day, the Mad Men-style agencies of yesteryear don’t move fast enough to keep up.

Think of the old-school advertising agencies being like the Soviet army. They’ve got the money, the tanks, the manpower. Now think of the new-school, internet-savvy, Facebooking, YouTubing, blogging creative companies like the mujaheddin. They travel light. They know the terrain. They can ambush a tank with an IED and slip back into the village undetected before the Soviet general can even finish scratching his goatee in confusion. They’re best-suited to excel at Internet Marketing.

[4thwebvids video=”2Q2OlqsknXI” embeddedHeight=”295″ embeddedWidth=”480″ autoplay=”false”]

In the brave new world of Internet Marketing, all the money, Hollywood talent, and professional film studios in the world can’t compete with a clever, low-budget YouTube video that goes viral. The new-school Internet Marketing troops are natives to the online terrain; while old-school ad agencies continue to spend millions on prime time TV spots that Tivo users fast-forward through, new-school Internet Marketing troops spend just thousands on online videos that they can tweak and send out to hundreds of distribution channels. One creative online video that goes viral will capture more eyeballs than a typical TV commercial ever could.

The result of all this YouTube, social marketing and Internet marketing cleverness is that a bunch of 30-somethings wearing jeans and baseball caps are making the suits on Madison Avenue feel like they belong on AMC.

Internet Marketing: Google is My… Frenemy?

It’s not just the kids in jeans making the Mad Men feel a little stupid. In a “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” twist, it’s the software itself that’s out-dating the agencies. With a few lines of copied-and-pasted code into the header of their HTML, any Joe Schmo website owner can track visitor statistics like an expert.

Tracking software like GoogleAnalytics, together with the powerful tools offered advertisers in AdWords, take away the need for expensive “market analysis” that ad agencies used to get paid big bucks for. With the few clicks of a button, Google’s software tells advertisers exactly which keywords they should use, then with a few more clicks it they can see which ads led to sales and which didn’t. There’s no more need to say “Mention this ad for 10% off” as a way of tracking the ROI of advertising dollars; Google tells you – and it tells you for free.

Internet Marketing: Let’s be Friends Forever


Google might be the undisputed king of the Internet hill for now, but don’t expect it to last once the slightly Napoleonic Mark Zuckerberg’s plans for world domination go into full swing. Founding Facebook from his Harvard dorm room back in 2004, his social networking website actually overtook Google as the most popular website in America for the first time in the spring of 2010 (Source: TechCrunch.

Zuckerberg was named Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2010 for a good reason: social media, social media marketing and Internet marketing are completely changing the world. Railroad networks in the 19th century changed the face of commerce and human interactions forever; social networks are doing the same thing in the 21st century. Nowadays, companies don’t list their website address at the end of a TV commercial, they list their Facebook address.

The creative agencies who know how to leverage Facebook, Yelp, Endgadget, YouTube, and other social media sites to make marketing efforts go viral are the agencies that will make money for their clients and tame the Godzilla-like world of Internet Marketing.

The creative agencies that don’t know how to do Internet Marketing…? Well, maybe AMC will do a casting call soon for the next season of Mad Men.

The Internet as Elder Wand: It’s the most powerful marketing tool ever created – that is, if a Marketing Wizard can wield it – Another powerful article on Internet Marketing from 4thWeb.