I write a lot about the inevitability of addressable media taking over the world of television. I’m now more positive of this than ever, because there are multiple ways this future will be realized, far simpler and closer than you think. Surely there are people far smarter than me working on this exact challenge right now.
The big challenge in addressability is the capability to identify your audience. The television as it is today is a dumb device, regardless of what Samsung, Vizio and the other manufacturers would like to say. As it stands now, the TV may provide access to lots of cool apps beyond standard channels, but the device is one-way, meaning it can only push content out. The audience selects that content and the TV never actually learns anything, because it is not a two-way device, meaning it cannot read the room. That is about to change.
I see a very near future where there are multiple ways the TV will become a two-way device and will start recognizing the audience.
Manual Audience Log-In
This is the first and simplest way to identify the audience, requiring users to log in when they turn on the TV, in much the same way you log in to your computer. My laptop has multiple profiles at log-in, each showing a slightly different version of the interface, with access to different preference established.
Think of this idea like a Facebook-connect, where you log in once, and after that are asked to log in again once a month or so, and the TV defaults to that preference for the user. This is less accurate in that anyone could easily sit down in front of the TV and pretend to be you. It’s also the closest to the current “Nielsen Household” type tracking. The benefits are that this would be more inclusive of a general audience.
Smart Home Log-In
This is one I personally like. I might have to patent this one by the end of the week! With thermostats and your security system getting smarter, why not your TV? If the TV can connect to the smart home, the home can detect who is in the house and in what room, and alert the TV who is watching the screen based on proximity. This then enables the television to deliver advertisements based on the audience. The technology sounds daunting, but the rate at which technology is changing, I don’t think this seems so far out!
I can think of a few more ways to make the television audience addressable as well, so I have to assume the TV companies are thinking about these as well. If you buy that assumption, it’s only a short matter of time before the world shifts and TV becomes segment-able like the rest of digital media. Don’t you agree?
Are you one of those people smarter than me (likely) who is already working on these ideas (hopefully)? Let us know on the Spin Board!