Leveraging The Power of Participation TV for Brand Marketers

Posted by Gavin Douglas on January 28th, 2014 at 11:35 am

Garnering success in both the TV and advertising industries is based on some very fundamental and seemingly simplistic foundations. Attract viewers, involve them in an intriguing story and compel those viewers down a path that provokes further action. Whether those actions are to buy a product, tune in for another episode, fall in love with a brand, or take action on social media, the basics are the same. Within these building blocks however, lies an entire universe of methodology, technique, and long existing benchmarks for success that are all changing rapidly.

As TV viewers increasingly interact with content across devices, engagement levels with the big screen have the potential to be lessened if not properly harnessed. Audiences today have a range of activities in which they multitask that have little to do with their television watching. The question that any smart marketer has to ask themselves in a digital world is how to bring  full attention across screens as part of a closed loop? How do we turn multi-taskers, into multi-engagers?

The answer is that the future of multiscreen engagement success, lies in the power of Participation TV. The creation of formats of television that solicit audiences to participate from their living rooms in real time and across devices. It is here where both TV programming and advertising must seek to integrate. How can we orchestrate participatory TV formats that engage users and bring them back into the advertising and brand story? Better yet, how do we capitalize on all of the changes occurring in TV consumption?

1) Create The Experience And The Social Will Follow

The world of TV has been fundamentally changed by the idea of digital socialization. We have seen the term “social TV” come into existence with gusto, because digital interaction across social circles is in and of itself a highly compelling proposition for both consumers and the industry. What those in TV and Advertising must understand however, is that Social TV is simply an offshoot of a greater television experience. Dull television will not facilitate socialization. Amazing TV experiences do. For those who want to integrate the idea of “Social TV” into their brand campaigns, they must realize it’s more than a technology integration. It is FAR more than twitter. It’s a production level experience created that is intertwined with the entire programming. Participatory experiences will yield socialization. Getting audiences and viewers engaged also results in audiences and viewers who want to bring others in.  Participation TV creates social TV and not the other way around.

2) Allow Audiences Control And Engagement Will Follow

Human psychology is key in any advertising driven ecosystem. We live our lives by constantly seeking to interact with the world around us and due to this we like to see that our interactions have impact. In other words, we want to control the outcomes of our environment in ways that we find favorable, enjoyable and often entertaining. This has been a missing component for decades in the world of one-way TV. If we give viewers the power to control aspects of both TV programming and advertising however, we instantly light up brain pathways that seek stimulation. It is not enough to sit and watch TV. Audiences want to interact, and desire to do so in a way that creates a specific outcome.

3) Close the loop

Many iterations of second screen apps have failed for one primary reason. Viewers had to decide and choose where their attention should be focused. The big screen with the primary content or the second/third screen with companion content. If the two were not integrated and directly correlated in real time, it becomes an issue of attention fragmentation. If a viewer is watching either programming or advertising on the large screen and they have a call to action on a differing screen, that is a potential viewer lost down a differing pathway. To truly engage audiences, their content itself must reflect back and forth between screens simultaneously. When we bring viewers into an experience that leverages the natural strengths of each screen at once, and creates one cohesive experience, we see brand campaigns that yield results, programming that is engaged with, and true audience attention without fragmentation.

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