As viewers use Twitter, Facebook and apps like Zeebox to continue to drive attention to TV Shows, these social tools paradoxically kill off TV Advertising. If you are a company looking to advertise would you advertise on the TV during the show’s ad break or on the iPad, smart device during the ad break? TV becomes the loss leader to the 2nd screen apps, as television stations hand over their audiences to Facebook, Twitter and Zeebox. Talk about making a rod for your own back!
NOTE: While real time TV such as sports events, panellists or reality TV get quite a few comments during the show, storyline based shows such as NCIS are tweeted about, Facebooked mostly during the Ad breaks. Both types of shows have higher interaction on social sites during Ad breaks rather than during the shows.
Imagine the big game is on. Or #TheVoiceAu. Everyone on Twitter and Facebook and Zeebox are shouting at the players, the contestants, through smart device 2nd Screen Apps on their iPads, Androids. Then the Ads come on. What happens next??? TV just became the loss leader for Facebook, Twitter and Zeebox social TV Advertising Campaigns… handing over audiences to a 3rd party severely limits options in the future.
Whoever can gain and retain the eyeballs of people wins in the Attention Economy. It used to be television, now it’s the iPad. And until recently, TV was hemorrhaging viewers to on-demand, interactive or social media.
Then came the Renaissance: tweet-along TV. Viewers could interact with friends while watching #TheVoiceAu or #SBSEurovision or #QandA. Suddenly TV became appointment-to-view again. Sarcastic tweets about Eurovision costumes are not funny if they are a day late. Smartphone or iPad at the ready, the Ad-breaks became hilarious and informative as the viewers became participants in Entertainment. And yes, some shows have 16,000 comments during an Ad-break.
Enter the problem. The “Ad-break”. If TV watchers are not paying attention to the screen during advertisements, it’s not even ambient noise as they are busy reading and responding to tweets on Eurovision fashion and pitchy voices on popular talent shows. The attention is elsewhere.
As if acknowledging that television by itself is no longer engaging enough, TV show hosts direct the hearts and minds of viewers by asking them to tweet with a #hashtag such as #The VoiceAu. Or to leave comments on the Facebook Page. Or download Fango or Zeebox apps. The Ad-breaks becomes an exercise in diverting eyeballs AWAY from TV sets.
And every time you divert attention away from your property to a social app, the TV stations are effectively telling Twitter or Zeebox or Facebook “here, take my database, entertain them”. Which is why there is an aggressive move by social tools to hijack TV audiences – Facebook has a new voting/rating system built into the timeline for shows, Twitter is hiring senior directors in TV here and overseas, Zeebox is pitching to become the third party app of choice by TV stations.
We are moving into a world where the TV set is the loss leader, as all attention is downward looking, at the iPad on our laps. The second screen is now the first screen. Why would a company buy TV ads when they could engage on the 2nd screen? TV stations needs to build communities on apps, not around the TV set.
By developing communities on their own iPad apps integrating Twitter, stations have a chance of empowering play-along, tweet-along shows and retaining a multiplatform audiences. But if TV continues to hand over their audiences directly to Twitter or 3rd party apps, they have abandoned their own audiences. And are lost. See you online during the next ad break!
Laurel Papworth is a social media educator and a member of Forbes magazine’s ‘Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers’ list globally. Twitter: @silkcharm
First published in The Australian July 2013 (paywall)
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