How ‘social TV’ enables immersive involvement in live events


Audience participation with live TV events via social channels like Twitter is becoming increasingly common and a big part of audience expectations.

I’m thinking of campaign-type events, not spontaneous or serendipitous actions by individual tweeters, Facebookers or Google+ers with their communities.

This is about orchestrated activities: programme-makers and the television broadcasters creating a broader platform for wider, richer and valuable content dissemination where the tweeter becomes an active part  – and, perhaps, influencer – of a broadcast event that embraces true multi media.

And it’s way beyond simply sticking a hashtag on the TV screen.

Nowhere is this more part of the fabric of live TV events right now than in the US with shows like The Voice and – perhaps more significantly – live ‘town hall’ debates with President Obama.

CNET News reports on Mass Relevance, a “social experience platform for brands and media” (says its Wikipedia entry), and how it puts Twitter in front of television audiences, boosting the social network’s public profile and altering its perception as a place for more than pointless babble to being an essential tool that enables and facilitates immersive involvement in live events.

Understand the platform:

[…] Mass Relevance is software-as-a-service for brands, agencies, and producers. It’s a technology platform that instantly scans content flowing through the APIs of social media companies, Twitter in particular, and filters it according to the client’s desires. The rapid filtering piece, which is far cooler than it sounds, is what gives television producers like Nicolle Yaron of “The Voice” the confidence to put viewer comments on display and to let audiences vote live on a song for contestants to sing.

The platform, using real-time filters, sifts through hundreds of thousands of tweets, dumps the retweets and replies, purges the content producers know they don’t want — profane tweets, for instance — and then presents what’s left in a queue where someone manually approves the tweets to go on screen. The system can also collect and analyze data for visualizations and power audience polls […]

And you’ll understand more about what’s coming.

A far cry from the nostalgia of the test card from yester year!

It’s useful, too, to see this aspect of Twitter’s growing role in the evolving media landscape if you have interest in Twitter’s forthcoming stock market flotation.

Full story from CNET News: The secret company behind Twitter’s TV takeover.

(First posted to my Flipboard magazine as a story link.)

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BBC global survey shows evolving news consumption habits across multiple screens

Tablet owners watch more TV news...It’s doubtful that many people would disagree with the belief that our behaviours in how, where and when we consume content – the evolved way of saying what we used to describe as reading the papers, listening to the radio or watching TV – have shifted dramatically and permanently with the broad and deep penetration of technology, both hardware and software.

We’re exposed to research, surveys and opinions – much of it highly credible – to show us how our world of content creation and consumption is changing in ways that we could hardly believe likely at the turn of the century just over a dozen years ago.

One area that is constantly on the attention radar is largely to do with the ‘how’ of news consumption. It’s not only about the TV any more: it’s also about computers, tablets and smartphones, separately and used in conjunction with one another.

This is the so-called second-screen experience that is already evolving into three or more screens as multiple-device ownership and usage become more common with greater access to the tools, greater understanding of what you can do with them and greater quantities of content to consume and share opinion about.

The results of a global survey conducted by InSites Consulting for BBC World News and, published yesterday, offer some credible insights into the growing impact of TV, smartphones, tablets and laptops on people’s news consumption habits in nine representative markets.

The BBC doesn’t say when the survey took place but I assume it was very recently, perhaps late in 2012 or earlier this year.

Over 3,600 owners of digital devices in Australia, Singapore, India, UAE, South Africa, Poland, Germany, France and the US were surveyed; the BBC says they were top income earners and owners of at least three devices amongst television, tablet, smartphone and laptop/desktop.

Here are a few of the key findings from the BBC’s survey (scroll down to see a visual summary in the neat infographic the BBC produced):

  • Tablet owners watch more TV news, not less, with 43 percent of tablet users saying they consume more TV than they did five years ago, and most saying they use tablets alongside TV.
  • Young professionals, the 25-34 year old demographic are the biggest news enthusiasts.
  • Second screening for news is becoming commonplace, with users often using devices in tandem. 83 percent of tablet users say they have used their tablets while watching television.
  • TV still dominates overall usage, taking 42 percent of people’s news consumption time compared with laptops (29 percent), smartphones (18 percent) and tablets (10 percent).
  • News audiences expect to see advertising nearly as much on mobile (79 percent tablet, 84 percent smartphone) as they do on TV (87 percent) and online (84 percent).
  • People respond to advertising across all the screens, with 1 in 7 users indicating they responded to a mobile ad in the last four weeks whilst responses to TV and desktop are 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 respectively.

Some of the other metrics the BBC published relate to breaking news and where people prefer to find it, and the type of news they prefer to watch:

[…] The survey also found that, in breaking news situations, users turn to television as their primary and first device (42%), with the majority (66%) then turning to the internet to investigate stories further. Users rated national and international news of most importance (84%, 82%), closely followed by local news (79%). Financial and business news (61%) were more highly valued than news about sports (56%) and arts/entertainment news (43%).

I’m not surprised at any of those metrics, perhaps because they broadly reflect how I see those situations and how I think many of my friends and colleagues see them.

One conclusion is worth considering, from Jim Egan, CEO of BBC Global News Ltd:

“There’s been speculation for years that mainstream uptake of smartphones, laptops and tablets will have a negative impact on television viewing, but this study has found that the four devices actually work well together, resulting in greater overall consumption rather than having a cannibalising effect.”

Points to ponder especially for advertisers and marketers.

See the survey metrics in the BBC’s infographic, below.

BBC's Connecting The Story infographic

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Desperation driving ad creativity

Delayed viewing

How do you address the clear trend of people not paying attention to your ad during the commercial breaks on TV? They’re either not watching at all during the breaks, or fast-forwarding through the ads if their programme is recorded; or, giving their attention to something else on a second or third screen.

For whatever reason, people aren’t glued exclusively to their TV screens as they used to be in those golden days of yore.

With so much competing for our attention today, there’s plenty of imagination and creativity at work designed to capture our imaginations so that we do give our attention to those visual commercial messages on our TV screens.

There are idea-shifts afoot as well with the advent of news ways of spreading commercial messages via social channels that might only have made it to the broadcast-TV screen before, if at all.

And then there are ideas that look like methods to drag you back into the days of singular attention and the command and control approach to grabbing eyeballs.

Volkswagen, for instance. The German car maker has applied some genuine imagination to a TV commercial in Belgium but for all the wrong reasons.

Rather than capture the viewer’s imagination with an advertisement that tells a compelling brand story in itself, thus enabling the viewer to decide whether to give his or her attention to it or not, VW’s ad agency DDB Belgium came up with a wheeze they call the ‘slowmercial.’

As PSFK reports, the ad for the new Volkswagen Beetle convertible is designed to target people who skip the ads or fast-forward them:

[…] Viewers of live television will see this ad and explanation, but those who watch it later and fast-forward will still see the top roll down, but at a faster pace, thus taking in the message just the same. The ad will run during Belgium’s most popular and frequently recorded shows such as Homeland and Bones.

The commercial claims that 50% more people will take in the advertising with a slowmercial, and if it is the case, it could be the way to proceed for advertisers in the world of fast-forwarding.

Here’s the ad – see what you think:

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

While the concept itself is imaginative, undoubtedly, I think this smacks of gimmickry that’s absent a story to tell. You can’t force people to watch your messages, that’s not how it works any more. You have to offer them a good reason to watch. Even product placement ideas such as the one that adds virtual products to a video recording won’t survive the authenticity and trust tests in the long term if you really are looking to engage with your consumers.

So I just can’t see ideas like these as long-term survivors. Unlike some crazy-sounding ideas such as the 5-second spot. Now that one will be a survivor.

(Via Nick Allen and Antony Mayfield)

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The habits of UK mobile Twitter users

Twitter mobile UK

I use Twitter a great deal on a mobile device, not only when out and about but also in pastime situations such as tweeting comments about a movie or TV show I’m watching, or commenting about a brand in a TV ad.

That’s the so-called second screen behaviour and experience in action.

It’s increasingly common behaviour according to some new metrics about mobile use of Twitter in the UK, published yesterday by Twitter.

Indeed, UK tweeters love tweeting on a mobile device according to Twitter. Their numbers show that 80 percent of the over 10 million Twitter users in the UK do.

While the metrics Twitter published don’t go into much detail about who was surveyed, and how many, or the methodology – only referencing “a panel of internet users” who answered questions about their use of Twitter “and other services” – the figures are worth a look as they offer some insight into current Twitter mobile usage in this country.

All the data is included in an infographic (see it below).

Here are some of the metrics that caught my eye that will likely be of interest to communicators and marketers (I’ve added some comments in parentheses here and there):

  • 80 percent of UK users access Twitter via a mobile device.
  • Mobile users are 40 percent more likely than the average user to access Twitter more than once a day.
  • 66 percent of mobile users use Twitter at home in front of the TV.
  • One in four mobile users (that’s 25 percent of them) use Twitter while shopping (one growth driver undoubtedly would be the increasing availability of free wifi in supermarkets, shops and other public places).
  • 31 percent of users tweet a photo they’ve taken (one of my favourite activities: I post photos a lot to Instagram, which also tweets them as well as posts a link to Facebook and Flickr).
  • 67 percent of mobile users follow brands on Twitter.
  • 50 percent follow a brand for customer service (making it so easy to tweet on the fly, increasing the likelihood of commenting on Twitter, meaning those in customer service needs to keep paying attention all the time).
  • 45 percent are likely to recommend the brand they follow.

See the full details in the infographic below (which you can also download as a PDF from Twitter):

Twitter mobile UK infographic

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Getting a grip on the lurching crisis at the BBC

georgeentwistleWatching events this weekend that make up the still-unfolding crisis at the BBC has been an experience of mixed emotions, ranging from bewilderment to despair to resignation (in two senses of that word).

Much of that surrounds the (now ex) Director-General George Entwistle, pictured, an honourable man whose short tenure in the job did little that demonstrated that BBC leadership had a firm grip on matters.

At the heart of this crisis right now are two specific investigations:

  1. A police-led criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by the deceased BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile – and possibly (probably) BBC staff and others – since the 1950s that burst into public light in October following the broadcast of an investigative report by ITV’s current affairs programme Exposure. That followed a BBC editorial decision not to go ahead with its own investigative report on the BBC’s Newsnight current affairs programme.
  2. An investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s, ordered by the Prime Minister, following broadcast of a BBC Newsnight programme on November 2 that alleged involvement by a prominent Conservative MP from the 1980s; he wasn’t named in the programme but his identity subsequently emerged. He denies such allegations and there’s a lot of talk about legal action against the BBC.

See these two Wikipedia entries for detailed accounts of these awful events:

In the midst of this poisonous mixture has been mounting criticism and questions over the leadership of the BBC, how the editorial processes and procedures work, even the very structure and future of the organization as an independent public service broadcaster.

All of that came to a head on Saturday evening when the Director-General George Entwistle resigned in the face of insistent criticisms of his leadership and growing calls for his resignation. He’s been replaced in the interim by Tim Davie, a BBC man with a marketing background who’s due to be CEO of BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial enterprise, on December 1 – less than three weeks’ away.

What seems to have been the final straw for Entwistle was his disastrous performance in a 15-minute interview on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs radio show Today on Saturday morning.

The interviewer was the show’s co-host John Humphrys, a veteran journalist with a reputation as one who takes no prisoners in his hand-to-hand combat style of interviewing on live radio he brings to bear at times, especially with politicians and business leaders – and it was on full display on Saturday morning.

I listened to the interview and it was a painful experience. It became clear to me, if it hadn’t already, that George Entwistle – an honourable and decent man, facts of which I have no doubt – was woefully out of his depth. Not only in participating in an interview of this type but also on the fundamental and far more critical issue of leadership and knowing what was going on – and with the latter, it became clear he didn’t seem to know much.

As I listened, I wondered how on earth the man at the top of this organization could come to such an important interview so seemingly unprepared. My thoughts focused on a specific aspect of Entwistle’s leadership behaviour, all to do with his apparent detachment from fast-moving events.

Take this segment, for instance, from the transcript of the interview, in which Humphry’s asks Entwistle when he knew about the north Wales abuse report and whether he’d seen a tweet that was posted before the programme was broadcast, which flagged up that it would be making some serious allegations:

[Read more…]

Olympic benefits for corporate reputations


The past two weeks of the London 2012 Olympic Games have certainly been a time of drama, high emotion, success and failure, and a general lifting of the spirits to witness such displays of intense effort and much achievement by athletes from over 100 countries.

The positive focus on this wonderful sporting event has just about excluded any other news from anyone’s attention as our TV screens, newspapers and favourite social networks have given us so much to consume, share and interact with over all that’s good about humanity and society.

It’s as if we know reality will resume this coming Monday, so let’s make the most of it!

You could apply similar thinking about a corporation or a brand from being associated with such goodness, where such a groundswell of positive feeling and perception rubs off on that corporation or brand.

As marketing intelligence company Warc reports, that’s exactly what’s happening with regard to Visa, BP and Acer – three of the main sponsors of the 2012 Olympic Games – which have recorded the greatest uptick in buzz among US consumers, citing new figures from the YouGov research firm.

[…] Visa, the financial services provider, registered the largest improvement on this metric, as its index score rose from 8.2 points before the competition to 22.7 points once it began on July 27.

Second place in the YouGov rankings went to BP, the oil firm, which has been tackling negative perceptions ever since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Its total climbed from –5.9 points to 2.6 points, an 8.5-point lift.

Acer, the IT group, took third, improving by 5.1 points to 8.9 points overall.

Warc’s report adds that Coca-Cola, the soft drinks maker, accrued an additional 3.5 points, taking it to 24 points in all. McDonald’s, the fast food network, was also up by 2.3 points to 16.1 points.

BP’s rise is especially impressive, given the still-ongoing reputational challenges the energy giant faces following the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

I think a key element in the success of BP and the others Warc mentions is how such corporate sponsors have been presenting their corporate selves and brands’ association  with the Olympics in TV and other advertising.

Take Visa’s example of explaining the economic value they say will result for London and the UK in general, following the games, as shown in this infographic (a portion of which you see at the top of this page).

In TV advertising, BP’s a good example of how a public perception of selflessness is positive, such as in this corporate spot shown on US television a few months ago focusing on athletes and their potential to win, with next to nothing said about BP’s business.

(If you don’t see the video embedded here, watch it on YouTube.)

BP has been showing similar-focused ads on TV in the UK.

YouGov’s concise report makes good reading as it adds commentary to the numbers including the other brands covered in the latest research – see the chart here (and check the three sponsors showing less buzz in the US than before).


Public opinion is a fickle thing, to be sure, but Visa, BP, Acer and others show that public relations benefits on reputation can result if you get it right. I wonder what such research would show for buzz about all these sponsors in the UK.

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