Cable Show Identifies Our Three-Screen Opportunity

Two weeks ago at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's The Cable Show, the iPad was linked to a set-top box. Data was exchanged between the two devices. The technical process of linking a set-top box, a mobile device, and the Internet is now possible. The linkage of these three screens has been more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, and perhaps that is why the full potential of this opportunity is not yet understood.

As a cable subscriber, I installed the "Remote DVR" iPhone application as well as authenticated my "TV Everywhere" portal. This means I now have a link between the set-top box, the Internet, and my mobile telephone. In my opinion, in the not-so-distant future I should be able to move opt-in television advertisements and programming (clicked from TV) to my mobile phone and Internet browser.  

For example I envision some day soon I will be able to watch ABC programming and, with a click of the TV remote, move an advertiser's offer from TV into my iPhone application.  Once activated, the advertiser's mobile message might connect to a Web property. In short order I would have traversed three platforms, leaving opt-in, personally identifiable bread crumbs all along the way.  



From a research perspective, the "three screens" will shine a new media spotlight on TV. We will be able to provide advertisers with insights we never thought possible. In addition, cross-platform measurement may become defensible once it is benchmarked against remote control opt-in click data. TV also has a path to maintaining privacy compliance (consistent with the Cable TV Privacy Act of 1984), since household-tuning data might only be shared with the marketer once its "ad" is clicked by the consumer.

This month new electronic privacy legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives.  Part of the focus of the legislation is to require that Web sites and mobile applications roll out easy to use opt-in and opt-out consumer preference portals.  Our industry -- in direct competition with unbundled Internet properties --  could offer opt-in consumer privacy protection for three screens via the authentication sign-up process of TV Everywhere and (in the future) the mobile DTV effort.

Under the three-screen scenario, today's television platform will remain a reach and recency vehicle, while in the background the platform would also be collecting billions of opt-in TV clicks that are then forwarded to other devices. Under this new business model, mobile becomes a location-driven (GPS) marketing tool linked to both TV and the Internet.  TV Everywhere (and mobile DTV) might morph into favorite Internet destinations that consumers could use to retrieve their TV clicks, and for marketers to measure cross-platform ROI. The three screens, by sharing data, would work together to seamlessly deliver the ultimate integrated experience to consumers. 

I don't think the three-screen industry is going to be controlled by just a few players. What I think we will see happen is that a handful of "three-screen ad-serving" companies will blaze the trail. Upon consumer adoption, the marketplace will grow. The existing TV ecosystem should dominate throughout since it is the only platform that can properly create, monetize, and distribute video programming -- and that expertise, I believe, will be the driving force behind the three-screen experience.  

Defining metrics and regulating consumer privacy for the three screens will be a work-in-progress for the near term. But it is the right time for advertisers, distribution platforms, and broadcasters to start building the foundation. I also think interactive television companies will eventually eliminate the overlay and instead focus on how to get the TV click into the device of the consumer's choosing.

1 comment about "Cable Show Identifies Our Three-Screen Opportunity".
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  1. Patrick Dineen from Nielsen, May 25, 2010 at 5:09 p.m.

    Thought provoking piece Michael.

    Think you are on to something, but the applications and the business drivers for the players you reference are still not clear to me for mainstream uptake.

    Do you have any "three screen ad-serving" companies in mind who will "blaze the trail?"

    Who else is writing on this topic?

    Thanks for your help,


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