and new media
forecasts keep campaigns (and
contributors) excited in one case;
and for media and advertising futurists,
the analyses reinforce their visions
and reassure investors.
Hence, a recent spate of studies
about viewers’ appetites for TV multitasking
should be keeping everyone
satisfied. There’s clearly a growing
audience for multitasked media
consumption, especially among
valuable young viewers. This process
includes “social TV” which engages
viewers as they watch a show.
Advertisers are salivating at the opportunity
to trigger T-commerce
via the real-time “smart” experiences
And that’s where the upbeat, but
divergent, findings raise questions
about exactly how or if this idea
will work and whether the various
systems can coexist in a fragmented market.
During the past few years, two distinct interactivity concepts
• The “two-screen” approach in which televised content is coordinated
with auxiliary material that viewers access via a smartphone,
tablet or other handheld/wireless device.
• The “smart TV” method in which video apps appear directly
on the big, flat-panel display screen, either as visual overlays,
picture-in-picture images or paused-video interstitials. The perceived
value is that on-screen interactivity doesn’t distract audiences
away from the TV screen itself.
While the recent research can demonstrate the value of each
system, there is clearly no definitive finding that has convinced
advertisers or program developers to optimize content for either
approach. Nonetheless, thanks to the growing number of projects
using one or both tactics, the industry may learn a lot this
year about the appeal of each format.
In fact, 2013 may be the year in which the TV community figures
out where to focus its multiplatform concentration.
|Fig. 1: Graphic shows when viewers are chattering about TV. Source: CTAM 2012.
Inevitably, the studies concur that viewers are opting for auxiliary
“social” activities while watching TV. “How Chatter Matters
in TV Viewing,” the first phase of an ongoing research project being
conducted for Cable & Telecommunications Association for
Marketing (CTAM), found that 70 percent or more of enabled
viewers “chatter” about a TV program or commercial while it is
playing or right after it runs. More than 80 percent of viewers
“talk” about the show via their social TV apps the following day
or afterwards, mostly via handheld devices. (See Fig. 1)
For now, viewers’ attention is focused on the second screen--as
confirmed in an avalanche of year-end research reports. Nielsen,
as part of its new alliance with Twitter, reported that as of November,
the overall growth of social TV chatter on Twitter zoomed up
800 percent over the previous year, fueled largely by the summer
Olympics. But every month saw a doubling of second-screen usage
over the 2011 levels, according to the Nielsen-Twitter report.
A report from Shazam, a second-screen enabler, claimed that
viewers who used Shazam had a higher recall of a commercial
and its message. This study, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates,
found that viewers using Shazam were “three times as likely
to interact with the brand” compared to viewers who did not use
the second-screen software.
Again, these reports emphasize that today the overwhelming
factor is interactivity via smartphones and tablets. Yet, TV makers
expect that their next-generation “smart TVs”—loaded with
apps—may encourage viewers to keep their
eyes on the big screen. Fundamentally, that’s
the concept behind the “triggers” plan being
rushed through the Advanced TV Systems
Committee, as described in my column last
month (Multiscreen Views, Nov. 19).
At the recent International CES, the revivified
Google TV—exemplified by LG Electronics’
big promotion—focused attention
on the TV as the centerpiece of the interactive
experience. LG’s “Home Dashboard” for
its TV models combined Google’s latest platform
and LG’s redesigned “Magic Qwerty
Remote” to enhance viewers’ ability to interact
with TV content, as LG described it.
Samsung’s “Smart Hub” featured a “simplified”
user interface. Additional features
were expected from Sony and other TV
makers at CES, which opened after our
But with all these advancements in “smart
TVs,” there’s a marketplace challenge. Of
the 25 million U.S. homes that already have
some sort of Internet-connected “smart TV,”
barely half (about 12 million) are using the
features available to them, according to NPD
Group’s latest study. A follow-up analysis by
One Touch Intelligence for the Council for
Research Excellence called the lack of TV
on-screen interactivity, “a conundrum no
one industry has been able to solve.”
Separately, another Magid survey for
YuMe (a digital advertising provider) indicated
that a wave of new customers expressing
the intention to buy smart TVs
expect to use its interactive features. This
Magid study concluded that 54 percent of
respondents prefer free, ad-supported content
across all screens.”
And that supports yet another Magid
study, “The Two-Screen Television Marketplace,”
issued last month. In it, Magid characterized
the scores of “competing start-up
‘simulscreen’ projects as a barrier to advertisers,
cable operators, broadcasters and
consumers.” Magid cited the accelerating
growth of simulscreening (multitasking
via tablet or smartphone while watching
TV) and recommended immediate efforts
to establish a standardized system that will
become familiar to two-screen users.
“Lock ’em in now,” said the report, citing
the expected growth of new users during
2013. “23 percent of smartphone intenders
and 57 percent of tablet intenders will be
new to the platform,” said the Magid analysis.
“The time to build relationships and
capture these uncommitted users is now.”
While “locking ’em in” may be a great
objective, the TV industry infrastructure still
sees opportunities in its own hardware. An
Infonetics Research project about video-ondemand
and set-top box technology envisions
a strong 2013, especially for products
that provide streaming delivery and enhanced
video services. Much of the Infonetics’
study focused on the growth of Internet
Protocol TV delivery, which would enable
more on-screen interactivity.
So, as usual, the conflicting analyses plus
the hopeful (“wishful”) thinking of interactive
providers raise more questions than
they answer. As the reports hurtle forward,
advertisers and program producers will continue
to dabble in the various platforms and
trumpet whatever successes they encounter.
For the rest of us, it’s going to be a year
of waiting for the right formula to emerge or
re-emerge or co-exist in a multiscreen world.
Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications
LLC, a media/telcom research
firm. He can be reached at GaryArlen@columnist.com.