The Two Biggest Hurdles Social TV Still Needs to Overcome

/// The Two Biggest Hurdles Social TV Still Needs to Overcome

October 5, 2012  |  Blog

Viewers’ growing tendencies to talk about TV in social media and interact on a second screen as they watch presents big opportunities for networks and marketers — but there are two big issues that need to be dealt with first. Various social-TV metrics can turn up inconsistent results. And the true interaction between social TV and ratings remains a subject of hot debate.

Evan Silverman, senior VP-digital media at A&E Networks, will address how social TV can leap those hurdles when he appears at Advertising Age’s Social Engagement/Social TV Conference on Oct. 17 in Los Angeles. We asked Mr. Silverman — who oversees digital content, production and design for A&E, History, Lifetime and Biography — for some early insight.

Advertising Age: What are the top challenges for networks and media buyers trying to take advantage of social TV?

Evan Silverman: Social TV is an incredibly powerful force, but measurement is in its infancy. We are currently looking for ways to gather more meaningful data and context. At A&E we use data points from Trendrr, Social Guide and Bluefin, but there are inconsistencies in the data.

The industry is fixated on a causal relationship between social-media buzz and linear ratings, but a causal relationship hasn’t been proven yet. The distinction needs to be made between causality and correlation. A lot more research needs to be done. The most cited survey from NM Incite and Nielsen, which says that a 9% increase in buzz volume a few weeks prior to a show’s premiere correlates to a 1% ratings increase among viewers 18-34, didn’t even use Twitter data. There is so much potential if we move to more mature metrics and agree on a measurement set.

Ad Age: What’s the most exciting advancement in social TV to date?

Mr. Silverman: The most exciting thing in social TV right now is social-programming guides that leverage social data to recommend content. With these apps, social data becomes imperial and not just supportive. The rollout of Zeebox is a move in the industry of allowing viewers to interact beyond just checking into shows and saying they are watching it.

Ad Age: Where does Facebook fit in all of this?

Mr. Silverman: Facebook is the elephant in the room. It has tremendous potential to provide networks and media buyers context, rankings and aggregate data. Currently, there’s no great way to measure and monitor the volume of conversations on that platform. Twitter data is primarily public. I’m not suggesting Facebook should make its data public, but they could anonymously aggregate it in a way that shows the number of people talking about a certain show and compare it to other networks. This would allow us to present it to media buyers and monetize social chatter.

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