Digital TV Summit 2012

Published at Onislam.net

Held at the Sheraton Park Lane, Informa’s two-day Digital TV Summit brought together a diverse selection of delegates with world-class speakers providing insight into their ever-evolving industry. While comprehensive, of particular interest to me is the impact of Social media and advertising in this space – the focus of my coverage below.

With Youtube now the world’s second largest search engine, the impact of Social is revolutionising the TV viewing experience. A complex web of real-time interactivity is being engaged. In the developed world, this is being driven primarily by the availability of the ‘second screen’ while in lesser developed countries, it is across mobile; that is to say that our second screen is their first screen. Irrespective, consumer behavior and expectation is changing demanding a richer and more relevant experience irrespective of where and how content is being viewed.

In the UK we are much further developed, accessing on-line services with a wide variety of devices. While the recent launch of Everything Everywhere’s high-speed 4G data network (4GEE) may give the impression of tv-video content on the move, with more than 99% of their customers using less than 5gb of data, and with packages up to just 8gb, streaming HD video has yet to become the norm.

Despite this, one-fifth of all BBC iPlayer requests come from internet connected devices, a reflection that every fifth web-TV access is from a mobile device which, if they aren’t viewing content on the move, the are doing so when they can latch onto a wi-fi connection.

One way to understand this change is to analyze consumer behavior: Smartphones during the morning, computers during the day and tablets during the evening; each of which represents the influence of technology on our respective lifestyles whether adults working or children at school.

As our usage of connected devices increases – 95% of 15-24 year olds in the UK are on the internet (51%:49% F:M split) our expectation of using social as a means of discovery also increases. This is made all that more interesting when we realize that nearly 1 in 5 minutes spent on-line is actually spent on Social.

Yet despite this, in the case of Walt Disney who have conducted some interesting analysis, Social discovery of their content is comparatively low. But it is fair to say that this is an anomaly which may be accredited to content rights management across on-line and the cross-platform methodologies the brand has adopted from a child’s early age to raise awareness of it’s content.

As a response to the growing influence of Social, advertisers are now exploiting consumer’s usage of multiple screens for accessing content, creating a bridge between that content and Social. According to Oliver & Ohlbaum 2012 Consumer Survey, 10% access TV program websites alongside viewing, 12% have used companion apps while viewing TV and 13% multi-screen once or more than once a week.  It thus comes of no surprise that advertisers are slowly responding to consumer behavior, with for example, C4 integrating Social interactions into 50% of its adverts. While this today may not account for 50% of advertising revenues, inclusion of Social in half of their adverts is a reflection of the direction industry is heading.

Case Study 1 by Sarah Milton Channel 4 & 4oD

Channel 4 in the UK have launched a video on demand service, 4oD, whose target demographic is 16-34 year olds. Thus far 5% of their top 100 programs are actually being watched via the service with some shows having much higher on-line viewing rates such as Misfits Series 3 and New Girl, 28% and 26% respectively. To add further context, more than 6 million people have registered, 44% of viewers have watched shows on-line since registering, and weekly e-mails drive 300,000 views a month through direct clicks. And thus far, during 2012 they have had more than 500 million content streams broadcast. Further, as 4% of adults do not own a TV but watch a TV on-line and crucially an interesting opportunity exists to expand their reach, which is already impressive given that Channel 4 have managed to capture 30% of all 16-24 year olds in the UK for 4oD.

As a result, and as a commercial channel, Channel 4 are expanding their portfolio of on-line advertising, testing and rolling out different models for engagements. The ad formats include pre-rolls, demographic segmentation, statistical derivations, and more. One solution,’ Pause & Resume’ plays an advert when content is paused before it is resumed. The message? On-line advertising for VoD services is still an open book with C4 being at the forefront of testing different models and how the consumer responds to them.  This become more complex when elements of social are being integrated into the proposition.

Case Study 2 by Dan Biddle, Twitter & TV

With 76% of users accessing Twitter via mobile, there are over a billion tweets being sent daily world-wide with more than 10 million tweeters in the UK alone. 40% of UK tweets are during peak time TV with 76% of people watching TV shows based on tweets they have read. Typically Twitter hashtags are added to live programs where, for example, in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, there have been more than 441,000 tweets. Elsewhere, in the US version of Big Brother, a Twitter campaign was run live to either reward or punish the next evictee, that alone generated 65,000 tweets; Mercdez Benz is encouraging audience participation for the next iteration of their TV advert; and Blur released a record on Twitter with simple links for one-click purchasing at the iTunes store.

The utilization of Twitter hastags to identify and label content along with links to Facebook pages, marks a dramatic shift from delivering content to a passive audience to responding to the users desire for interaction empowered through technological advances.

Video on Demand, Live Shows/Tweeting & Social Media

Both case studies raise a number of thoughts. With broadcast and linear on-live TV one can vote and interact with an activity in real-time via Social. However with broadcast, advertising is generic while with registered on-line viewers it can be targeted. When moving to VoD, the focus of Social shifts towards creating buzz and recommendations to friends for what to watch and advertising can and should be delivered in a much more relevant way.

The new eco-systems being created around the delivery of content via Digital TV are creating new business models for engaging audiences, reaching them via social and better-targeted advertising. Whether streaming at home or on the move, consumer behaviour is changing rapidly as more innovations reach the mass market. As the lesser developed world steams ahead away from fixed line content focusing instead on mobile, fast lessons are being learnt on the ways to integrate and gain value from better Social TV and of course advertising.

Already inundated with content flows whether on tv, on billboards, on any connected device, value will not rest in quantity but quality of production and engagement; whether from traditional production and broadcast companies or from new entrants to the market: as Youtube pushes the creation of ‘channels,’ some on-line channels have higher viewing rates than some of the (smaller) cable channels.

The future for Digital TV, indeed Digital Content is as outlined in the opening chart, understanding the wider eco-system delivering technologically relevant solutions to the audience who are expecting content they can interact with socially but also equally meaningful advertising.

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