This week marks the start of the official 2012 TV season where networks will introduce a bevy of new comedies and dramas with the hope of attracting the magic number of viewers sufficient enough to get the green light on a second season.
But as network executives cross their fingers this week on new shows like "Go On," "Animal Practice," and "Made in Jersey," they should also be focusing on much more than the amount of viewers watching their pilots; they should also be concerned with how they're watching. As the convergence of mobile and social deepens, the channels are being hailed as the key to making TV interactive. As a result, there's an emergence of new opportunities for both network executives as well as marketers to deliver cross-channel, interactive, relevant video and content to consumers.
That's due in part to the accelerated adoption of mobile by consumers. According to Nielsen, in Q4 2010, 24.7 million American mobile subscribers watched video on a mobile phone, a 41 percent increase from the previous year. In addition, mobile subscribers on average watched four hours, 20 minutes of mobile video a month, with younger consumers ages 12-17watching seven hours, 13 minutes of mobile video a month. And143.9 million Americans viewed video online in January 2011, spending an average of four hours, 39 minutes viewing video on their PCs/laptops.
In addition to mobile devices and tablets playing a key role in audiences' primary viewing habits, the trend of secondary screen use is also emerging as a factor in how marketers need to treat television viewing.
According to Pew Research's recent study, "The Rise of the Connected Viewer," 52 percent of adult cell phone owners use their phones while watching television. Of those mobile phone owners, 38 percent used their devices to keep themselves occupied during commercial breaks, 22 percent used them to fact check something they saw or heard on TV, and 6 percent used their phones to vote for a reality show contestant.
So what do these stats mean for marketers? Two main opportunities come to mind.
--Avoid linear advertising. TV users are jumping from their phones, to their tablets, to the television so give them content in all mediums. If you're a marketer, include a call to action in a TV ad to visit your Facebook page, adding a teaser for a social media promotion. As 1to1 Media Senior Writer Cynthia Clark pointed out last month in her article, "Using Mobile to Bolster TV Marketing Campaigns," some marketers are even using QR codes and Shazam tags in their TV ads that direct viewers to their social sites. Additionally, TV networks should be offering mobile apps that audiences can download to receive supplemental content to their favorite television shows.
--Connected viewing offers rich marketing data.
As the mobile video and television-viewing experience becomes more commonplace, marketers will be able to deliver more rich and targeted content to enhance their viewing experiences. With more audiences using their mobile devices to interact with their television programs, they are offering up personal information and viewing preferences that will help advertisers and networks target their communications and programming to individual viewers.
So this week as you settle in to try out the new reality TV show, singing talent series, or investigative drama, with your smartphone in hand, think about the potential that you're holding in terms of the contextually targeted marketing opportunities that await TV audiences. If you respond to audiences' new viewing habits, the marketer, networks, and consumer will all win in the long run.