Press Coverage

Long live TV

Dean Wilson 06 Jun 2012

Dean Wilson, UK CEO and VP International at Active International, says TV is in rude health in 2012 and harnessing today’s technology presents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and deepen a brand’s relationship with TV viewers...

When I fancy watching some TV, I use the remote to access the electronic programme guide, flick to the home page that starts with BBC1 at the top of the screen, and then scroll down until I find something I’m interested in. The old broadcast ‘push’ model still works for me!

On the other hand, my kids operate strictly on a narrowcast ‘pull’ paradigm. Their default setting is to navigate straight to the sports section to find some football, failing that it’s catch-up TV or whatever they’ve recorded recently.

These are two distinct ways to consume TV in 2012 (incidentally the Queen’s still been reigning for longer than commercial TV has existed).

Moreover, there has never been more opportunity for viewers to interact with the TV screen, which does not necessarily sit in the corner of the lounge any more. You can enjoy programmes on your TV, your laptop, your tablet, your smartphone.

Historically, these have been separate activities, you watch on one or the other. However, The new “catch and throw” technology, currently being advertised on the Sony Bravia Smart TV, demonstrates the extent to which technology is changing how we watch it. This technology allows you to “flick” the programme you’re watching from your smartphone to your television to your tablet, potentially following your journey from your commute, to relaxing at home, to carrying your tablet into the kitchen to continue watching while you cook!

Cracking news for those that simply can’t bear to turn off the latest episode of Game of Thrones but need to get on with life too.

This generation of smart TV also allows you to watch a programme while having your Twitter feed running on a panel alongside the content you are watching. Social media is becoming an increasingly integral part of the way we watch TV. You can sit scanning the Twitter or Facebook feed on a second screen while watching the television (well some people do, as a mere man I find it impossible to multi-task obviously...).

Despite the doom-mongers, PVRs (or even Digital TV Recorders) haven’t killed off linear TV - yes you could decide to record The X Factor and watch it later, but you’ll either see the result on Twitter or Facebook before you get to watch it, or you’ll miss out on the social commentary of your friends who are watching it live. That watercooler moment the next day about who sang best hasn’t so much been replaced by the instant talking about it on social media, it’s now “did you see how many people on twitter were slating Tulisa’s performance on BGT?”

Arguably, the social media reaction is the watercooler moment. Alternatively of course, social media sceptics would suggest that we simply love, and will continue to love, talking about TV and still would be even if social media hadn’t been invented!

Arguably, the social media reaction is the watercooler moment. Alternatively of course, social media sceptics would suggest that we simply love, and will continue to love, talking about TV and still would be even if social media hadn’t been invented! In fact, ‘word of mouth’ specialists Feller Kay say that 90% of brand conversations still occur offline.

So how are brands getting involved in this two screen age? Programmes like Million Pound Drop Live are doing it well. People are encouraged to play along online and it feels genuinely integrated into the programme when Davina tells the couple playing “50% of those playing at home lost all their money on that last question”. It works because you watch programmes like that calling out the answers and sharing the emotions of the participants as they play, and everyone enjoys hearing either that they’re doing better than everyone else at home, or that they weren’t the only ones to get it wrong!

Channel 4 was also the home of the recent Prometheus trailer debut during Homeland, which encouraged viewers to tweet their reaction to the trailer and a selection of tweets were then shown in the next ad break. This was the first time live tweets were shown on screen, but the numbers didn’t exactly set the world on fire. However, Homeland, like The Wire, is ‘lean forward’ TV and the numbers of people scrolling through their phone or having the laptop on while watching is bound to be lower than say BGT.

The increasing capability of technology is providing fantastic targeting opportunities. Both Virgin and Sky are this year rolling out targeting on their set top boxes to allow advertisers to target viewers by age, demographic, number of children in the house, etc. Sky’s Adsmart technology has been trialled on the SkyGo platform for some time now, but this year will be rolled out to their set top boxes. This will take some time to implement, but offer a chance of the Holy Grail of minimising ads being seen by the wrong people.

So if, as some economists feel, “Winter’s coming!” (Eddard Stark), how should the TV market react? As a committed Keynesian, my recommendation to marketers is to back the power and integrity of your brands, and continue to invest in the mass medium that is TV.

TV’s in rude health in 2012, and harnessing today’s technology presents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and deepen your brand’s relationship with TV viewers. In the ‘game of mediums’, long live the TV!


Dean Wilson

Contact us

If you'd like to work with us or find out more information about Active, get in touch with us by email or phone

020 7520 6666