I attended the Social TV Summit in Los Angeles yesterday. (Actually, it was held at the Bel Air Country Club, but that's another story.) As the summit's title suggests, it was a day spent listening and talking about how social media is intersecting, enhancing and altering television viewing, media and advertising. It was a great conference and hit a hot topic at exactly the right time.
Noted media economist and co-host Jack Myers grabbed everyone's attention with his opening remarks, boldly predicting that social TV marketing would be an $8 billion to 12 billion annual market by 2020. While I haven't fully gotten my head around those numbers yet, Jack is a good friend and has been extraordinarily accurate in his macro market projections over the years, so I'm inclined to believe them, particularly when you consider them within the context of the $40 billion to 50 billion annually which he has previously forecast for all of social media marketing by 2020.
Where will all of this money come from? Here are some of my thoughts:
First, what is social TV? While I don't think you can really nail down a great definition of social TV at this point, since it's so nascent, I view it as all of the activity occurring at the intersection of social media and television devices and programming. It includes second screens used while watching TV, networked companion devices that support or relate to TV, social tools and applications on connected TVs, and all of the TV-related content and conversations on social media.
TV viewing plus Web and social use is big. Users spend an enormous amount of time surfing the web while watching TV. 78% of users do both at least monthly, and one-third of all Web browsing occurs in front of a TV.
Companion device usage while watching TV is big, too. 35% of tablet and iPad usage occurs in front of the television, and this is before we really have that many robust and specialized applications to truly enhance or support better TV viewing experiences. Many (including me) predict that app-enabled iPhones, tablets and iPads will be the dominant "remote controls" for home television in a few years.
Strong measurable linkage between TV viewing and social media expressions. Companies like Blue Fin and TrendRR are doing incredible things bringing Web-like Big Data crunching visualization to TV-related social expressions. Now, marketers and their agencies can know exactly what and how many social expressions their TV ad impressions generate.
Lots of new TV-related social tool. Check-in tools have become big in location based services. Similar tools are now available for TV viewing. Services like GetGlue and Miso are helping TV networks and programmers establish loyalty-based relationships with their viewers, enabling them to "check-in" while viewing, earn badges and even get show stickers sent to them in the mail.
Will this add up to $12 billion annually in nine years? I don't know, but I do think that it's going to be really big. What do you think?