How can advertisers and programmers leverage social TV? - SmartBrief

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How can advertisers and programmers leverage social TV?

3 min read

Digital Technology

This post was written by SmartBrief technology editor Susan Rush.

If you think social TV is only for young, hip viewers, you are mistaken. Live televised events or TV series that have loyal fan bases are perfect candidates to add social TV elements — that was one of the takeaways from the “Social Television — The Merger of Content, Social Interaction and the Video Platforms” discussion panel at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Friday.

Where will social TV work?

To open the session, panel moderator Richard Sussman of The Nielsen Co., pointed to the success the 2010 Oscars had with Facebook, noting that “Facebook was the winner of the Oscars.” Shows like the Oscars make viewers realize that they need to watch an event or show in real time to be part of a “telecommunity.” “A [digital video recorder] makes the telecommunity disappear,” said Sussman, who also said viewers who paused the Oscars were out of sync with the social interaction.

“Any show with deeply loyal communities can be a candidate for social TV, “ said Sussman.

Gayle Weiswasser, Discovery Communications’ vice president of social media, agreed. “Social media has great capabilities to enhance the fan experience. She pointed to the success Discovery had building fan participation on a social platform when the channel aired Capt. Phil Harris’ last appearance on “Deadliest Catch,” which aired after he passed away. Discovery’s website attracted 14,532 participants in an online chat after the episode aired on the East Coast and another 5,339 after the West Coast airing.

Discovery has also found success with the “check-in” model, which rewards fans of specific shows who “check in” on the website to earn rewards and discounts. also uses a check-in model to enhance the viewing experience. To get the treatment, a show needs loyal fans who feel like they must watch the show live. “A show doesn’t have to be a top Nielsen show to attract the most check-ins,” said Christy Tanner, general manager of, who believes if companies enable social interaction, people will pick it up where you put it.

How to monetize social TV? operates off of an advertiser model, and Tanner said that a year ago, check-ins were not on the radar, but before it decided to launch the service the site captured a sponsor. “Advertisers are demanding social interactions with ads,” she said.

The panel participants agreed that advertisers are looking for ways to interact with viewers, but the question of how to monetize and measure the interaction remains an issue. A standardized vocabulary is needed, according to Marty Roberts of thePlatform. “Measurement as a whole is a disaster right now,” he said, noting that TV advertising has a digestible metric that everyone understands, but on the social TV side, advertisers are asking for all different things. This leaves content providers working to meet everyone’s needs. “Everyone is all over the place. Once we get a common vocabulary … we can really grow the market,” he predicts.

Are you excited by the prospect of social television? What pitfalls to the promoters of social television experiences need to be overcome?

Image Credit: Auris, Istock Photo