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
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
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
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
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
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!