SocialTV Week In Review: Ratings Don’t Talk, People Do + MTV’s Kristin Frank + Twitter’s Tony Wang +More

When it comes to television, Nielsen informs networks, media buying companies and advertising agencies alike.  Its data permeates every corner of the industry. Yet the system has never been perfect, and doubts about whether the Nielsen data can tell the whole story trace back to the company’s beginning. Even so, the need for a universal measurement tool remains simple to understand; without a currency, there would be no economy.

In recent years, the relevance of Nielsen’s data has come under increased assault (first from the DVR and now from the Internet and mobile devices) as fractured audiences threaten to undermine the accuracy of measurement. NPD In-Stat estimates 100 million households will be using hybrid (Internet, Mobile and TV) services by 2016. Being able to track these audiences is essential. Ken Goldberg, CEO of Real Digital Media, proves this point when he claims that media buying companies are undervaluing digital-out-of-home ad buys because they don’t understand the space. Ignorance and missed opportunities are perpetuated by the continued absence of reliable metrics.

Nielsen is reacting to the changing landscape, though how fast and effectively it is doing so remains to be seen. The company sought to address the overlooked DVR audiences by introducing a specialized “C3” rating, and this system has now been widely adopted. This week, Nielsen revealed plans to beef up online audience measurement with a new product known as “Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings”. These efforts are clear evidence that the company is working hard to capture viewership data that previously fell through the cracks. Alas, the challenges don’t end here.

Nielsen will also have to navigate the new realm of Social TV. Television audiences who engage with the medium via social networks can be tracked through those networks. This data has the potential to offer not only accurate audience measurement, but it can also provide real feedback from those viewers. This is the kind of intelligence is something networks and advertisers will increasingly demand.

Kristin Frank, SVP and General Manager of MTV and VH1 Digital, says, “…the ways audiences will consume and interact with [content] are quickly changing. It is critical that we as an industry listen to the audience and embrace these changes”.  The importance of “listening” to your audience has been echoed by Todd Spencer, Executive Director of CBC News Network, and Ryan Osborn, senior director of social media at NBC News [see below]. While the concept of “listening” to your audience is nothing new, the methods for actually doing it are. It is here that feedback from social data has the most powerful advantage over Nielsen numbers.

At the IP&TV World Forum in London, Tony Wang, Twitter UK general manager, highlighted additional ways broadcasters could take advantage Social TV data. He supplied successful case studies such as the Survivor host, Jeff Probst, tweeting his show to a fourfold increase in viewership. Wang also threw out some interesting stats, notably, 80% of people under 25 use social networks while watching TV.

There was a lot of news to cover this week, continue reading for more on social video advertising, updates from Zeebox and and much more…

Nielsen, GroupM To Develop New Ratings Tool via paidContent

“On Monday, the ad-buying firm GroupM and the research company Nielsen announced that they will jointly develop a new product called Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings, which will combine the research company’s TV measurement tools with recently launched products that gauge reach and frequency across the internet. The hope is that eventually, the tool will be able to tell advertisers the total audience for a show—across devices and platforms—and how many impressions were served to those viewers… Several years ago, for example, the agency led the development of Nielsen’s “C3” rating, which factors in viewing of commercials during digital video recorder playback up to three days after a show’s initial airing. C3 is now the metric on which most TV networks sell their advertising time.”

Say No to Nielsen via Digiday

Nielsen ratings have admittedly come a long way from handwritten diaries, but they’ve still become antiquated as our viewing experience shifts from broadcast television to over-the-top services like Netflix and Hulu. This sea change of Internet meshing with TV presents a golden opportunity for anyone with the smarts to step up and figure out a better way to mine the resulting avalanche of consumer-engagement data that is now becoming available. Nielsen guesstimates shouldn’t be OK anymore… Make no mistake: Inertia is what has prolonged Nielsen’s rule.

Social TV is all about sharing via Sun-Sentinel

It’s no longer just about Nielsen ratings. Local TV and ad officials say social media comments about a show are discussed in sales meetings. Manuel Martinez, general manager at WTVJ-Ch. 6, said he would be open to using such data in future sales pitches.

How To Make DOOH Relevant: Social TV via Digital Signage Blog

“Speaking of digital out-of-home ad buys “Even the most successful networks are often saddled with unsold inventory. One of the speed bumps is that media buyers simply do not understand the space, as the metrics and behaviors are not the same as the familiar television world, even if the screens look similar. To them, the medium is irrelevant… it seems likely to remain irrelevant until the metrics and behaviors of out-of-home become synchronized with those of television. And we are not talking about the metrics of traditional ratings and behaviors like time-shifting. We are talking about new metrics and new behaviors that are defining how we consume media and relate to that media and to each other. Social TV.”

TV, Net Growth Propelled By Reach – On Any Screen via Media Post

“As distinctions blur across screens on Internet-connected tablets, smartphones, computers and televisions, two things will happen. Economics and content will become more integrated and ubiquitous, and a more universal interactive experience will emerge.”

Time for Social Integration for TV and Publishing in 2012! via the Social CMO.

“Broadcasting executives are paying attention to how integrating social into linear TV and digital is making a difference in audience growth and tune in. These are early days, but those who are moving now are the ones that are evolving and gaining competitive advantage.” – Sam Decker

Social TV’s Evolution Ushers In New Era Of Content Creation via MediaPost

“Stripping away all the buzz and technology, at its core social media is just another way to tell a story and simultaneously grow your audience base and drive ratings…Despite what you may hear, technology and social can’t make average content good, but it can make good content great… It is our role to understand how our audience thinks and then apply that knowledge to engage them in more meaningful ways across social platforms… With this in mind, we are now creating content and designing experiences that will be foundational in envisioning the next generation of social TV, based on a number of observed millennial behaviors…Millennials want a direct personal and interactive relationship with the musicians, celebrities and brands they love. They demand zero distance between product and consumer, full transparency and total access. This is a generation that grew up on gaming…While content will always be king, the ways audiences will consume and interact with it are quickly changing. It is critical that we as an industry listen to the audience and embrace these changes.” – Kristin Frank, SVP and General Manager of MTV and VH1 Digital.

An Expert View — Todd Spencer: Let the audience really have an impact via The Seevibes Blog

“We could see the audience wanted to participate in the show. So we wanted to find a way to bring the audience into the show in a meaningful way. The traditional platform was creating content in the non-traditional space. And we wanted to bring the content in the non-traditional space back into the traditional space, and actually inform the programming. Let the audience really have an impact…That’s the opportunity. To be inclusive in a meaningful way. At the same time, we do want this to become something that in a year from now, or less, CBC News Network is known for…We WANT the viewers to change the course of the programming.” – Todd Spencer, Executive Director, CBC News Network

Why NBC News Bets on Social TV via Digiday

“The key for social TV, according to Ryan Osborn, senior director of social media at NBC News, is pushing viewers to be active on social networks rather than simply passive couch potatoes… ‘To tell stories at scale across all platforms takes a lot of coordination. To make this happen, we bring together teams from editorial, marketing, ad sales and technology to help foster community around the programming that we distribute to a mass audience on television’… ‘At the end of the day, our goal is to tell the best stories possible,’ said Osborn. ‘Social TV is a real-time focus group that can help shape storytelling, and it is becoming integral to the news gathering process.’”

Broadcasters must engage with desire to share, says Twitter via Digital TV Europe

 “[Tony Wang, Twitter UK general manager] said that 72% of young viewers were prompted to start watching a show by positive comments, while 64% had their interest in a show prompted due to social media about the show topics and storylines, and 13% liked to watch a TV show that others are watching. Some 77% of young people said social media helped hold interest in a TV show, while 66% said show storylines discussed on social media were interesting. Certain tools could increase interest – hashtags on air, creative calls to action, ‘@’ names on air and allowing the audience to shape the narrative, said Wang…Wang cited the example of Survivor host Jeff Probst, who live Tweeted during every episode in 2011, leading to a fourfold increase in viewership… Wang said Twitter was staffing up to enable the company to work more closely with broadcasters and was recruiting someone with this role specifically in mind.”

Young adults embrace social TV via Total Telecom

Twitter claims 80% of under 25s communicate via social networks while watching TV… ‘Social TV is something that a broadcaster doesn’t decide to have, it’s something that’s here and now,’ Wang said. ‘It’s going to happen whether a broadcaster decides to have it or not…The question for the producer, for the broadcaster, is how to harness the energy that is social TV for your programmes,’ he concluded.

Social Media Chatter Ups Live TV Stats via MediaPost

“new research shows that social media can significantly increase consumers’ TV time… Among some 150 males and females who engage in what Rossow calls “social TV” at least once a week, the emerging behavior has also made these viewers into more active consumers and influencers.“

Why Big Bang Theory Reruns Are One of the Most Powerful Forces on Cable via Vulture

According to “Michael Wright, who oversees all programming* as head of both TBS and sister network TNT, … ‘If you go back and look at [cable ratings] over the past ten years, the No. 1 network is usually the network that has biggest acquired series.’… as beneficial as reruns can be as a lead-in, original shows still generate the bulk of cable networks’ profits. For one thing, cable operators pay higher subscriber fees for networks with programming viewers can’t find elsewhere. And Madison Avenue also values originals: Even if a first-run show draws notably fewer eyeballs than a comedy repeat, ‘The [cost per ad unit] on the original is going to be much higher, maybe three to four times as high,’ says one person familiar with the ad-buying economics. That’s because ad buyers believe viewers are much more ‘engaged’ while watching a ‘new’ show, while those audiences catching a BBT repeat may not be fully paying attention to the show because it is so ubiquitous (network, cable, syndication, streaming).”

Social TV is giving rise to a Nation of Chatterboxes

“Not only does the average Brit spend over two months a year watching television, social media sites are also influencing the viewing choices of many people, according to a report published by TV Licensing, UK.”

With TV Everywhere, It’s All About Discovery via Tech Crunch

“In other words, the Connected TV ecosystem today is in a similar place to the Android ecosystem in mid-2010. Players like Netflix have already built billion-dollar businesses on Connected TV – Nielsen found that over 85% of Netflix streaming customers use Netflix on their living room TV…Discovery is the dominant paradigm on Connected TV. This is in big contrast to the two paradigms driving the web – search and communication…Creating a consistent and uniform experience across hundreds of devices is a significant technical challenge. But it’s also a major competitive advantage. Companies that build products that can scale an incredible discovery and consumption experience consistently across hundreds of devices will have an unfair advantage.”

Telcos well placed as media moves to cloud, says DT’s O’Sullivan via Digital TV Europe

“While the set-top may be on the way out, content could come from the cloud in the future. ‘I think it’s going to be the telcos – they are the experts in cloud provision, so they will have an advantage in delivering services from the cloud,”’he said. While telcos had struggled to come to terms with the media world in the past, this migration was ideally suited to their strengths. “It’s not culture clash, it’s culture match,” he said.”

Web Viewers Watched More than 800 Million News Videos in February via MediaPost

“Web consumers watched nearly 815 million online news and information videos last month. That’s from a total of about 38 million overall videos viewed online…That partnership seems to be paying off, evidenced by these early traffic numbers, and suggests that location, location, location may be what matters in online news real estate. Yahoo is one of the most visited Web sites in the world and claims about 173 million unique visitors per month. The share that ABC-Yahoo snagged in the online news race underscores the value of sheer mass and volume in winning in online news…Despite its massive traffic, Yahoo has lagged in ad dollars.”

Social Video Advertising: What Works and What Doesn’t via VideoMind

“But social TV is more than just second-screen apps and checking into shows. It’s also a medium for advertisers to capture engaged eyeballs. In 2011, social video ads totaled about 5.6 billion views, with more than 500 campaigns averaging 765,000 views — a new record according to Visible Measure’s 2011 Social Video Advertising Report…Compared with TV spots, social video ads have more resonance because of what Visible Measures calls viral reactivation…This speaks to the stark contrast between TV and social video — ads on TV are there one second, gone the next. Social video ads, however, never die. In fact, they can surge at anytime when a new, related ad gets hot.”

The Second Screen Gets Most Of The Attention via Stowe Boyd

“‘78.6% of the participants spent more than half of the time looking at the computer.’ According to 2011 study: Media Multitasking Behavior: Concurrent Television and Computer Usage – Brasel and Gips, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking”

Social TV Is Dying. Viva Social TV. via Multichannel News

“Todd Walker, senior vice president of product management at Comcast Cable…told me that some programming ‘lends itself to interactivity, with voting, polls, trivia and additional information and other programming does not.’ He also acknowledged that some programmers prefer ‘to allow social interactivity on the primary television screen, interacting with the remote control, while others are placing their efforts on second-screen experiences for laptops, tablets and smart phones.”

Is TV paying too much attention to fans? via The Christian Science Monitor

Until the past decade, fans were largely cut off from the writers and producers of commercial television programs, apart from sending fan letters. But, as it has a habit of doing, the Internet changed everything, by allowing fans to band together in chat rooms and discussion groups. That change has made a huge difference in how the creative staff of shows get audience feedback… “I don’t think there’s room for fans’ voices in a writers’ room. There [are] already so many voices trying to reach a consensus, inviting the whole world into a writers’ room is more chaos than it can bear.” – Phil Klemmer, writer/producer for Chuck

I’m Not Really Watching: Active vs Passive Viewing and Social TV via The Toad Stool By Alan Wolk

“…people often turn on the TV just to have some sort of background distraction. Call that ‘passive viewing’… What about shows that aren’t just background noise? Shows we look forward to and actually care about what’s happening. Call that ‘active viewing.’”

100 Million Households Will Be Using Hybrid Services by 2016, Says NPD In-Stat via SFGate

“New NPD In-Stat ( research forecasts that 100 million households will actively use a hybrid service delivered to their TV set by 2016… ‘We expect nearly 80 million households will be actively using TV apps provided by their service provider by 2016. These new hybrid approaches provide an excellent growth opportunity for TV producers.’”

Zeebox prepares for US launch in Q2 via ipTV News

“Emboldened by its recent success, UK-based social TV app Zeebox has appointed an ex-Time Warner Cable exec to oversee preparations for its US launch next quarter.”

Zeebox brings social payments and voting to its ‘second screen’ TV platform via The Next Web

“Mobile Interactive Group (MIG) has announced it has teamed up with Zeebox which will see MIG integrate interactive social payments and voting features into the social TV app, letting users buy what they see on screen, and also vote for a contestant in their favourite TV talent shows.”

Zeebox And Vestel Announce Integration Partnership via App

“zeebox, a leading companion TV app that makes TV social and interactive and Vestel, one of the world’s leading DTV manufacturers, today announced plans to showcase deep integration between the zeebox companion viewing application and Vestel connected television sets. The two companies will jointly develop a synchronized TV viewing experience delivered on Vestel-manufactured TVs and smartphones and tablets running the zeebox application… This feature is just the beginning of closer synchronization between Connected TVs and the Web, and represents an innovative step forward in enabling Connected TVs to become social and interactive.”

Vizrt and Announce Partnership for Integrated Social TV and Graphics Infrastructure via Broadcast and Media Technology Industry Guide

“Vizrt Ltd., a leading provider of content production tools for the digital media industry, announced it has signed a preferred partnership agreement with…The partnership gives access to a growing network of broadcasters that use Vizrt products, while Vizrt gains a way to provide the best social TV solutions to its graphics customers.”’s social TV guide comes to the iPad via Gigaom

“Next generation TV guide’ has finally launched its free iPad app, which provides a socially-curated hub for on-demand film and live television…The app effectively provides a discovery layer that spans several distinct islands of online film and TV content. It recommends programming mostly through the likes taken from your Facebook friends — and doesn’t host content itself, but rather forwards the user to partners such as iTunes and the BBC.”


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