Commentary

Devices Will Add To TV's Advantage

Last week Dish announced that starting in September, subscribers will be able to watch television content on their iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. On the same day, Motorola and Verizon FIOS kicked off an effort to bring TV to a new digital tablet.  Cablevision also recently stated that it is developing video applications so that subscribers can access content from their iPads (and related devices).

In the August issue of Wired, Caterina Fake, the co-founder of Hunch, shared that one of her career goals has been to make technology more human. Fake said," You should be able to feel the presence of other people on the Internet."  I mostly agree with her. But as TV continues to turn two-way and integrate with a host of devices, the deepening bond consumers have with today's providers might get Fake to start including TV in her plans.

Erwin Ephron developed the theory of recency planning, which states that television advertising is most effective when it is placed inside the exact moment of consumer need.  Complementing Ephron's theory is Jack Myers' emotional connections theory. Myers believes that as advertising clutter increases, marketers will be looking to form emotional bonds with customers on their digital terms.

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Over the past decade, video on demand, interactive program guides, and DVRs have become the primary places viewers search for content on their TV.  I look at it as if the navigation available through these methods -- like three rotating "rings"-- has  turned the act of searching for content into a sort of user-controlled gyroscope. 

Eventually a feedback loop (via TV clicks) will become ubiquitous and will be tied back into a multichannel provider's databases. This rotating "gyroscope" may then morph into a video recommendation engine available through any device. Ephron's and Myers' theories should hold throughout this transformation.

New growth for the Internet has traditionally been projected to come out of the TV ecosystem. But with the introduction of all these devices, the boundary between both media is no longer clear.  Internet properties, confident from nearly two decades of unchallenged growth, might be financially affected if the interactive interest generated from television viewing were to stay within the TV ecosystem. 

Today some TV advertisers are paying double for a consumer exposure. First they pay for the TV commercial; then they pay Web sites to collect that television-created interest from multitasking viewers.  Correcting this imbalance is now possible through TV providers' new two-way capability that enables them to fulfill consumer requests captured from a click, thus eliminating most of the messaging redundancies between platforms. 

Incumbent TV players, perhaps using EBIF, will eventually be able to deliver the consumer's requested data (derived by the click instructions) to any device under their direction.  The future prospects of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, and others will be recast as this long-simmering imbalance can finally be technically corrected. 

Recent press reports note that parental controls might eventually be incorporated into TV Everywhere. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has also been looking into a browser-level way consumers can opt out of behavioral advertising on the Web. Destiny is telling us that these controls will eventually be put into TV Everywhere for the management of television viewing.  TV Everywhere (and similar applications) can act as an opt-in privacy control, and revenue enhancement engine, for the TV clickstream. 

The long-term benefits of linking a TV Everywhere portal to consumer choice are as follows:

a) Integration with Web and devices. Leveraging Internet-enabled technologies such as GPS, video cameras, heart monitors, car diagnostic kits, bathroom scales, etc. will allow the user to combine data beyond mobile phones into a video device.

b) Customization via advertising and content feeds. Tailoring the user experience will require at least two interdependent feeds, kind of like how AdWords assembles advertising results based on a consumer's search request.  The television industry, when leveraging multiple devices and a return path clickstream, can create a superior experience to Internet search.

c) Path to addressable media.  Interlaced bound and unbound content will enable the user to monitor and interact with personally identifiable, and unidentifiable, data sources from a variety of devices wrapped around the core video experience.

Consumers will strive for a deeper understanding of their world. A personal level of devices -- those that can monitor everything from heart rate to the performance of automobiles -- will become commonplace and are a part of the natural evolution of Web 2.0. As consumers multitask, they will seek out privacy-protected devices that can be integrated with "television."

The erosion in the confidence of the ratings system is never going away.  Devices that fragment audiences will continue to proliferate. In my opinion, the TV research community will come to terms with this fact and radically expand their definition of television measurement.  Also, there is this perceived "war" between the Internet and television over advertising dollars and consumer attention.  But I think as the world continues to go "green," revenue growth for both digital platforms might actually come at the expense of direct marketing.

1 comment about "Devices Will Add To TV's Advantage".
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  1. George Smith from GWS Consulting, August 10, 2010 at 2:16 p.m.

    As always Michael, is direct, insightful and forward thinking!

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