Where’s the Data Fit into Social TV Platforms and Ads?

While the social element of television is not new, Social TV is a relatively new concept used to describe the emerging generation of television services that integrate with other communication platforms like voice, chat and social media on the web.  Social TV leverages the power of social networks to create a new type of highly interactive user experience.

According to a report from Nielsen, 86 percent of U.S. smartphone owners and 88 percent of tablet owners use their devices to watch TV.  Moreover, about 69 percent of tablet owners use two screens regularly each week, and more than 26 percent use single screens several times a day.

Social activity growth in conversation and check-ins on TV programming has increased to about 91 percent year over year, according to a study by social TV tracking service Trendrr.TV.

Adding to the emergence of Social TV, another report says about 72 percent of respondents used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. The recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that use the devices to communicate with friends while watching TV.

“TV shows with small audiences can generate enormous traffic on Twitter,” said Digital Clarity’s founder, Reggie James. “Social TV is a new platform for engaging with a TV show and has turned TV programs into online events.”

February’s social TV mega event- the Super Bowl – was the latest example where saw the trend of ad spending on national network and cable TV. Advertising time during the Super Bowl this year was estimated to cost $3.5 million per minute.

Social TV Content Providers

Media companies are now developing new ways to take advantage of Social TV trends that have heightened the level of commitment among loyal viewers.

The online gaming platform TwitchTV announced the launch of its live tournament applications for mobile users across iOS and Android. The main functionality of the TwitchTV mobile application is the ability to view all available streaming content on the web in high definition and in full screen mode.  It also includes a search engine and easy navigation between the different game platforms.

Users can follow their favorite channels directly from the video stream and see a list of channels that are broadcast live. They can also chat with other users while viewing the videos.

TweePLayer, dubbed the first DVR for social media, provides social media content associated with TV shows, advertisements, conferences, films, political events and more. The platform uses social TV data to stream time-shifted context for video players like Hulu, so you can see tweets about a program when you watch the replay online.

As TweePlayer expands to include social content beyond Twitter, it’s rebranded itself with a new name: Tomorrowish.

“Fans post millions of social media messages about their favorite TV shows every day, and we’re bringing those conversations together in context to make it easy to find the best posts,” said Tomorrowish CEO Mick Darling. “Live TV and social media content is a great combination. Time-shifted TV viewed with the curated content of Tomorrowish’s time-shifted Social TV makes this combination even more powerful and fun.”

Tomorrowish is a system designed to retrieve past conversations from Twitter to sync with any program that we are seeing, regardless of the time. The company’s Machine Curation tool helps content providers engage their audiences and their social networks by displays the most relevant posts.

Social TV is also a Great Marketing Platform

Social TV is also a great marketing opportunity, providing a new way to approach potential customers and build relationships based on affinity, and the value of sharing, participation and exchange.

Companies can access personal user preferences to improve television advertising. In addition, companies can determine the best strategy to approach marketing via connected TVs, use social ratings analytics tools to find and target lean-forward audiences and leverage the second screen to drive synched, deeper brand engagement.

Darling recognizes social media’s impact on TV, and hopes to differentiate his startup by following the viewers.  Instead of leveraging social TV to keep people glued to the TV in real time, he wants to bring the conversation to the content, no matter when or where that content’s being consumed.  As a result, Tomorrowish is also able to infer a great deal more data about consumer viewing patterns, like when they pause and resume playback, which parts of a program are most or least likely to get paused, and what context emerges from viewer responses at any given part of the program.

Building a market around that data is an important next step for Tomorrowish, as they determine the best way to make the leap from startup to full-blown revenue.  In the short-term Darling’s company is focused on TV, creating an experience that doesn’t force viewers to disengage from the social scene if they miss 5 or 50 minutes of a real-time program.

“Long term I’d like to see Tomorrowish be the default place where people go to have watercooler conversations about all media content,” Darling says.   “We’re great for TV but we’re good for conferences, political events, education, government meetings and everything in between.  If there’s media and a discussion, we can be the thing that ties those two together.”

Contributors: Saroj Kar