“TV of Tomorrow” gains traction

TV of tomorrow fast approaching (iStock) Last week Tracy Swedlow’s  annual “TV of Tomorrow” Conference was held in San Francisco where the “who’s who” of Interactive television gathered to discuss the future of television from broadcast to broadband including tru2way and TV Anywhere.

In past years’ conferences, you would have found the the few, the proud, the clinically-depressed-die-hards of advanced television platforms, geekgirls like myself , who have been trying for years to advance the cause of TV with social features, commerce solutions and true targeting capabilities.  And in the past, the legacy systems of the US cable infrastructure, the limitations of satellite’s two-way capabilities and the lack of scale in broadband hindered advancement in the space.  But this year, the conference came into its own as the industry showed market growth in a number of ongoing initiatives.   There is movement happening, money being spent and real players involved in the marketplace.

To set the stage for what’s happening in the interactive video space, here are some relevant statistics:

57% of Americans use their TV and PC simultaneously at least 1x a month (Nielsen)
20% of all tv viewers are simultaneously on their pc or mobile device (MRG)
78% of Teens and Tweens are online while watching tv and 66% are sending text messages while watching tv (ypulse/Pangea)

Of all the solutions bubbling up, here are a few that marketers can immediately take advantage of to leverage the power of video to accomplish a number of marketing goals: 

1. Clickable Video – The ability to “bookmark” or interact with video content on the fly

Some Providers:
Clickable Video
Overlay TV
YouTube’s Annotated Video

The ability to bookmark (identify items in the video stream and save them for later purchase) products in a video has now reached a very sophisticated level. The biggest game changer here from the technology side is that the interactive stream is now completely separate from the video stream.  This eliminates the need for pre-baking interactivity into the video file.  In today’s world of hyper syndicated content, and cloud-based solutions, this streamlines the creative process as well as the distribution of the final video. For products or brand messages that have require a bit of education or demonstration or even for low consideration products, this is a win-win situation.  On the storytelling side, annotated video allows you to encourage the viewer to participate in the direction of the storyline or receive text based information along with the video.

2. Social Video – The ability to enable social features while consuming video

Broadband Providers
Studio/Network .coms

Television viewing has always been a social experience and most of the interactive television plays over the last 10 years have been focused on how to encourage audience interacting with broadcast content through polling, narrative choices and character detail.  But with the onset of broadband and the growth of social networking behaviors and tools, the true power of social TV has been revealed. Facebook and CNN championed this phenomenon  with the Obama inauguration, allowing you to choose multiple camera streams and chat with your friends or anyone watching with you.  But it’s in the sharing of content that video really gets social. YouTube empowered the ability to comment, rate, and share video links. Facebook has since been building communities around such shared content, and a number of other solutions are building communities around particular shows, franchises, and entertainment brands. This encourages discussion, introduces brands into that content, and provides fantastic data and research opportunities for soliciting feedback on the shows and brand sponsorship.

3. Cross Platform

Cross Platform Providers

The concept of “cross platform” has been the buzz for the last few years, with the idea that if you could follow the consumer’s path with your content, you’d be reaching them across all their life touchpoints and you’d have a better opportunity for achieving reach, developing an audience, and achieving real message delivery.  Up until recently, the approach has been to create multiple partnerships across multiple platforms and to work hard to let consumers know that your content was there. But a newer model is emerging. Singular solution middleware or software solutions that work across multiple devices through applications (that a consumer would download and potentially subscribe to) and allow the consumer to have a singular sign on and experience across multiple entry points.

And all of this sets up the concept of Cloud TV, where the distribution of video will happen from “the cloud” and the consumer won’t have to worry about any type of physical media or storage or even file to manage.  More on the cloud in the coming months…