SmartTV - The next big thing

The Next Big Thing

A few weekends ago a friend asked me what I thought the next big thing in digital was.

This came off the back of a conversation around mobile and the fact all our media friends have gone to Mobile World Congress and we, her in-between jobs and me unable to put my business case together in time to go, felt like we’re the only media people left in Soho. Taking a sip of my wine, my response was Digital Television.

I’m a big believer in the quote from The Social Network that one day we will live in the Internet. I’m a member of Generation Millennial and have slowly watched my world go digital. And it excites me. I loved hearing Malcolm Poynton, chief creative officer at Sapient Nitro, talk about Digital Cities at The Drum’s 4 Minute Warning and can’t wait until I can look out my window in the morning and as well as seeing a big, red bus on the high street, I’ll also see temperature and weather reports for the day digital projected onto the vista (come on Google window glass!)

My household owns a SmartTV and I love it. Our remote actually had a touch pad in the middle and you use it more like a laptop mouse with a click to select rather than a traditional button remote. It’s amazing. It’s connected to the internet with apps set up for BBC iPlayer, Netflix and the rest. If I want to watch House of Cards from Netflix on the big screen – tap, slide, double click and I’m there – right up until Match of The Day starts and I lose my television privileges.

What I don’t love is being served the same advert 3 times in a row when catching up with my 4oD – particularly when it’s for some graphic video game that I’m never going to use. Similar, I’m sure my housemate who plays those video games is properly getting mighty annoyed by being served holiday villa ads while I dream of where I’ll go for the May Bank Holiday.

While the industry has moved forward with video advertising across the display front, the true video battle needs to be fought on players like 4oD and ITV iPlayer. We’ve seen solutions to make advertising more interactive and make it easier to get consumers to get to a brand’s site but targeting and capping issues haven’t been addressed correctly. As consumers become more aware of the digital advertising data capabilities they’re going to start demanding better than being served the same ad eight times in a 30 minute programme.

In terms of targeting, no one has solved the multi-device issue yet but Microsoft, through Xbox, is already working on technology that will be able to tell who’s in the room. The next step will be to know what ad to serve based on who’s in the room and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t extend across other platforms or be included as part of your cable television box. As the popularity of SmartTV or devices that connect dumb TVs to the internet (like Xbox), then there’s no reason why standard television advertising couldn’t be served in the same way.

Similarly, marketers are going to start demanding more. TV audiences are still only represented by a small number of electronic measurement boxes (according to Nielsen this can be as low as 1,700 in the USA) and diary keeping (again, only 850 diary respondents). How can this allow marketers to make properly informed decisions about their television buying? Given my male housemate tends to know more about Geordie Shore than I do, I refuse to believe that the majority of Geordie Shore watchers are young females but as a true Millennial, I refuse to believe people can be pigeon holed anyway and digital will give the true view of what they’re really doing online.

As online marketing, long championed as a truly measurable and accountable media channel, pushes its way into the main-stream, marketers will begin to expect better measurability and accountability from their other media channels as well. TV has long been the glamorous side advertising but has never been really called to account for its huge price tag, however, it’s media channel that looks most similar to online and therefore, I believe marketers will start to demand better measurement figures and more proof of the audience proposition. TV advertising departments will have no choice to respond.

Developing connected TV is really only the first step. If we perfect connected TV, already so close to the PC environment as we know it, then it truly opens the door to the Internet of things – connected fridges, heating systems, windows (come on Google).

But, I’m throwing it down here, it’s all going to start with the TV.


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