Social TV Week In Review: Digital and Social at Upfronts + Buzz over Brand? + Death of the 30″ Spot

At this year’s upfronts, TV networks placed more emphasis on digital and social than ever before. TBS and TNT foretold of their transformations to “branded video destinations”, where linear viewing is just one more option, while CW asserted that it was “the first fully converged network”. Meanwhile, FOX used their upfronts to position themselves for the impending battle against Netflix and Hulu.

In an interview, Gayle Weiswasser, VP of Social Media at Discovery Communications, shed light on network executives’ Social TV hopes and expectations. Among them is the ability to drive TV tune in/web traffic, listen to viewer conversation and uncover new audience insights.

Ms. Weiswasser and others interested in unlocking the value of Social TV should consider the distinction between building buzz and building a brand.  Keith Reinhard of DDB warns against a singular focus on building buzz, which may neglect or dilute the brand – The WWE presents a good case study.

The WWE is a leading advocate of Social TV and has deeply embedded Twitter into its programming. On Monday nights, RAW characters carry plot lines through Twitter while handles and hashtags are promoted in efforts to spark trending topics. But what would seem like an airtight social strategy has, in fact, alienated some viewers. The problem is that super saturation of social integration is still a nuisance for many (see article below). Pleasing all viewers is an impossible task, but, when a vocal opposition airs its grievances, it is important to listen.

Satisfying different viewer segments is perhaps where a dual screen dichotomy will flourish most. Networks can offer the first screen to viewers as a stand-alone, lean back place to unwind, while the second screen could accommodate those seeking a lean forward, participatory experience.

 Addressing Facebook’s role in Social TV, Olivier Gers, CEO of Endemol Worldwide Brands, believes there is an opportunity for a different type of storytelling that has not yet been discovered. Lessons from WWE demonstrate the same is true for Twitter. Second screen apps will undoubtedly have their own narrative contributions as well.

Discovering new opportunities for storytelling is also a challenge for advertisers. This week the “death of the 30 second spot” was a common topic. Dish’s new Ad Hopper, and the Internet’s greater ability to provide uninterrupted viewing, suggests the value of the traditional spot may be shrinking.  Future spots might start to look a lot more like “a two screen experience tied to linear content that, in turn, offers choice or “gameplay,” and a strong commercial message for the brand”. At least that seems to be the approach of Unilever (see below).

But don’t expect the transition to be easy. TV Everywhere models will present measurement and valuation issues for advertisers and the debate over whether 2nd screens add distraction or value continues.

More thoughts on these topics as well as other Social TV news below. Enjoy!

At Network TV’s Gathering, Web Is Central via NYTimes

At the upfronts, network TV executives spoke the languages of social media and Web science to a greater degree than ever…CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves joked about having a page on Pinterest, the social Web site, but the real take-away from his Carnegie Hall presentation on Wednesday was the phrase “first screen first.” As the image of a flat-screen television was projected above him, Mr. Moonves said, “We love social media enhancing our product but most importantly, with all of this, everyone is still talking about the first screen.”… The CW pitched itself on Thursday as “the first fully converged network” — but it has competition on that front. TBS and TNT, two cable channels owned by Turner Broadcasting, rather dramatically said that two years from now, they won’t be linear channels, they’ll be “branded video destinations” that just happen to have a linear component.

TV’s Upfront Pitch: Our Shows Offer Best Social-Media Traction via Ad Age

In nearly every upfront presentation made last week by the big TV networks, executives took pains to stress their expertise in connecting advertisers to consumers, not only with splashy TV programs but also via the many audience-splintering outlets in the emerging social-media sector… News Corp.’s Fox took the strongest stand, telling advertisers its top-rated programs generated more social-media reaction than anything cobbled together by Netflix (which recently launched “Lillyhammer”) or Hulu… Fox is opening a unit called “The Bridge” that will create tailored promotions to work TV advertisers into social networks and other new-media venues where fans of TV shows are interacting… It’s a switch for the big TV networks, which traditionally took pokes at each other during the annual process known as the upfront. Now they’re lashing out at decidedly different rivals… Going social could also boost ad commitments—or that’s the hope… And in recent months, advertiser interest in harnessing social media has intensified greatly…Whether or not social-media ultimately brings in more dollars, the networks clearly feel it’s something they can’t ignore.

Discovery Communications Discovers the Meaning of Like via Brian Solis

Gayle Weiswasser VP, Social Media Discovery Communications “Our social accounts allow us to interact with fans in a manner that was previously impossible for large broadcasters: two-way, real-time conversation around our programming and talent. Our mission is to augment our fans’ experience with our networks through relevant content, access to talent, exclusives and other interactions that celebrate our fans and shine a spotlight on their passions… We use social media primarily for four purposes: 1) engaging with fans and encouraging that two-way conversation; 2) driving tune-in to our programming; 3) driving traffic to our owned-and-operated fansites; and 4) gathering insights about fan preferences and reactions that we can share internally with our network marketing, communications and production partners.

Despite the Buzz, Social-Media Users Still Not Really Interested in Your Ads via Ad Age

Keith Reinhard, “There is a huge difference between creating a brand and creating buzz. A buzz is what you create about a brand, and that’s quite different than creating the brand itself”…”The point is we need both — the brand-building skills we learned in the past, combined with the brand-extension tools technology offers today. The danger is that in our mad dash to be digital, we lose sight of the former, and a brand’s core values begin to disintegrate.”

WWE’s Social Media Obsession Wearing Thin: Fan Opinion via Yahoo! Sports

Being bombarded by social media scores during the flagship show, Monday Night Raw, is not only distracting, it’s annoying. Add to this the company’s desire to dictate what topics will trend on Twitter, and you have the recipe for a frustrated viewer. How many times during a two hour period does the WWE use a buzzword in an attempt to get it trending?… Sure, it was entertaining the first few times the Rock was able to make humorous terms trend on Twitter, but it has since grown old and tiresome. I certainly don’t need to be told every time anything minor is trending. The WWE has managed to take a useful, fun tool and overuse it to the point of nausea.

TV companies still grappling with social TV, says Endemol via Digital TV Europe

Olivier Gers, CEO of Endemol Worldwide Brands says, “Lots of people talk about Facebook as a channel, but it’s actually a medium that requires a different type of storytelling that no one has discovered yet. Putting TV shows on Facebook is not enough, we need to make it meaningful but haven’t figure how yet,”…Gers also said that the number of technology companies offering social TV services was a concern. “There are more than 85 companies working in this space – how do we know who to work with,” he said.

Television in the social era: It’s not about your audience via memeburn

John Cabral of Viacom Media Networks…believes this new medium will challenge traditional models of entertainment moving “intertainment” (internet oriented entertainment) beyond television. He reckons this will force media creators to rethink how they produce content and the importance of social media

Network Interest in Social TV Grows via Digiday

Social TV is the hot new thing. The question is: Who is going to own it? Dedicated third-party apps like GeGlue and Viggle, social giants like Facebook and Twitter, or the networks and content companies themselves?… Networks and media companies, having spent many millions to create the content that people want to talk about so much, are scrambling to figure out how they can own that conversation themselves, rather than simply serving the business models of others.

Different types of Social TV applications via VOD Professional

Some of the recent tablet applications that have been launched are true Social TV apps but many are simply glorified programme guides. What most applications lack is the connection to the actual TV content: the ability to provide social functions contextually to what is shown on the big screen. This normally requires integration with TV devices or middlewares but can potentially be solved with content detection on the handheld device.

Second Screen App Viggle Seduces Consumers, Eyes Social TV Ad Dollars via Overheard Digital Media

For advertisers, Viggle is proof that Social TV can enhance an existing TV media buy. For example, an advertiser can sponsor a TV show on air and on Viggle. Viggle can then create a quiz based on the content of an ad scheduled to appear during the show. Since consumers earn points toward a reward if they get the quiz question correct, they are incentivized to pay attention to the spot.

Study: Do Smart Phones Distract from TV? Yes and No via App Market.TV

What is the future? Death of the 30-second spot with any content that is not live is inevitable. With the reduction of scarcity and abundance of offerings, consumers will have a lot more choices that don’t include interrupted TV. …Those who will own second screen are those who will provide multiplatform engagement at the show, channel, brand or cross-channel levels. But with second screen, real-time audience measurement (IP-driven with highly advanced analytics and metrics) it’s not going to be as easy for brands and agencies to reach as the old 30-second spot of disrupting TV and it’s fuzzy math in terms old-school pulse-taking like Nielson, BARB and GFK have been milking for decades.

Inside one of the biggest social TV ad campaigns ever via LostRemote

The campaign is innovative because it leverages a growing consumer dynamic of engaging with multiple screens to enhance the viewing experience.  This is a new way of viewing major events- from awards to live sporting events.  Our campaign brings that 2-screen dynamic to the branded content experience.  We intrigue our consumers with our branded content and the interlude technology compelling them to engage. …It’s redefining what a spot can be by offering the viewer a two screen experience tied to linear content that, in turn, offers choice or “gameplay,” and a strong commercial message for the brand.

Trends : The top 8 current and future trends in social TV / KIT digital via TheMarketingblog

  1. 30 second ad spots on TV will morph into ‘social intermissions’ and will be tailored to enhance different types of programming. Watching TV is a “lean back” experience and how much we want to lean back depends on our relationship to the content. Sports and reality game show programming has lots of timeouts and other breaks in the action and perfect for facilitating conversations around the game. With drama programmes for instance, a great opportunity for advertisers would be sponsored conversation around a just-viewed show
  2. Social Intermissions may be welcome by consumers, and rather than blaring jingles, brands could use this time to become part of the conversation and engage viewers around the content they’re watching or at the very least around some sort of social action they can take on the second screen (a poll, a game, voting on a multiple-choice question, a chance to buy some of the merchandise they just saw)

TV Everywhere’s Counting Problem via AllThingsD

“TV Everywhere” is supposed to let the traditional TV business hang on to the status quo, by promising viewers they can watch whatever they want, whenever they want it…But even if consumers go for that deal, the TV guys need to make sure that advertisers buy in, too. And that won’t happen until the TV guys can get some basic stuff right. Like counting eyeballs, no matter where they watch a show.

New View On Viewers: Maybe Distractions Aren’t Such A Bad Thing, After All via MediaPost

What is most interesting, and actionable, is that the “distraction” is not a bad thing, since some of the activities include actually watching TV on the tablets or other devices, as well as engaging in one form or another of social networking dealing with the shows on the TV…Microsoft urged marketers to take notice of the fact that multitasking can be beneficial, and suggested they should embrace the new technologies and leverage these finding to customize their marketing and commercial messages…far from being a “distraction” mobile devices can actually improve on TV’s performance as an advertising tool.

62% of connected TV owners use a second screen via UTalkMarketing

Futuresource Consulting asked 4,000 smart TV owners across the UK, US, France and Germany on their viewing habits and found that 62% of respondents across the markets engage with another screen, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone while watching TV. However the report also uncovered that three quarters of respondents use these devices to browse or search online for items that are completely unrelated to what they are viewing on their connected TV.

TV Viewers Carry the Conversation to Social Networks via eMarketer

Almost one in five viewers starts watching a show after reading about it online…According to a January 2012 poll of US heads of TV households conducted by marketing research company Horowitz Associates…Twenty-three percent of those polled said they had visited a website or used an app that provided more content about a show, while 39% had used the internet to search for more information about something they saw on television.

‘What Did I Miss?’: TV Attention Suffers A Big Hit From Second Screens via MediaPost

Switching focus from device to TV becomes so tiring and disorienting that at times I just give up on the main screen altogether…Not surprisingly, people watching only one screen had 17% higher recall rates and 12% higher preference rates. The presence of a second screen not only diminished the visibility of TV content but even affected likability. When a second-screen ad was synchronizes with the ad on the main TV screen, however, recall bounced up somewhat by 8% — but preference rebounded considerably, by 17%…Obviously, we need tons more research on TV distraction and the actual ways in which people are using devices during TV time. The first run of research told us that many, many people are using devices while watching TV, but we still don’t know or appreciate what people are doing and the level of distractedness it incurs…we may need to make the ad creative more quickly and easily understandable to keep engaged during the ad pods rather than using them as a signal for an email check…Will second screening make really good programming harder to watch and mediocre or irrelevant programming (for any particular viewer) easier to tolerate?

Music, Film, TV: How social media changed the entertainment experience via Brian Solis

Processing this data is one thing. Interpreting its impact on your strategy for programming, marketing, and engagement is up to you. What’s clear is that what we think about social media, entertainment, and influence and how consumers are behaving can only teach us about how to be more engaging, entertaining, and how to create and steer experiences that matter to consumers and producers

Six Interactive TV Themes from The Cable Show – Day Three via Interactive TV Commerce

Next up were the business heavy hitters from Time Warner, News Corp, Cox and Netflix. As TW’s Bewkes underscored, TV Everywhere has been adapted faster than most other new technologies and definitely faster than he and his peers expected. The need to more quickly meet consumer expectations – historically not a strong suit of the cable industry – was a Cable Show theme all three days…Whoever answers the question “What do people really want while they are watching TV?” will build the next great social TV company…the goal of engaging consumers in social TV conversations that also somehow incorporate brand messages. That’s potentially one of the key answers to becoming profitable.

A TV Platform So Disruptive Everyone’s Suing It via Fast Company

Chet Kanojia is the CEO of Aereo, “The dream-come-true would be to really create a parallel ecosystem in which buyers and sellers of content come together in a way that makes sense. If you get a sufficient mass of consumers on the platform, new content will emerge, programmed for them. Say I’m a new Internet-based news channel: I might price my news channel at $1.99, and users wouldn’t have to take 55 other channels to get value out of mine.

Want to reinvent TV? Don’t forget the TV via GigaOM

A TV that consists of many little displays working together, a TV that’s always on, a TV the size of your living room wall and a TV that obeys you like a well-trained dog: That’s a lot to swallow, especially if you’ve thought of the next wave of apps as innovation in the TV space. However, it may be time to think bigger, and leave some of the assumptions of what TV is — and what TV sets are — behind.


One Comment on “Social TV Week In Review: Digital and Social at Upfronts + Buzz over Brand? + Death of the 30″ Spot”

  1. Brittany Renard says:

    Why don’t CBS, FOX, and NBC execs want consumers to enjoy commercial-free TV? It’s what we want! I’m a customer and employee of Dish, and I think Auto Hop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. A well known consumer advocacy group, Public Knowledge, agrees that people should have the right to control how they watch TV. They’re taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, and NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room and DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV

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