Page 90


GAME OF TWEETS How are broadcasters harnessing social media technologies to drive viewership and create new opportunities for content creators and advertisers? Neal Romanek reports


ocial media is no longer a new frontier. Twitter is 11 years old; Facebook is 13. It may be easy to forget, but broadcasting has made attempts at social interaction for decades. Live call-ins are as old as radio, and interaction with TV programming via text and email are as old as both technologies themselves. But today’s full spectrum saturation by social media promises to push live broadcast TV into a whole new realm of interactivity. Danny Peace looks after sales and sponsorship at Channel 4. He thinks the union of digital TV and social media will create a new kind of viewing and a new kind of viewer. “What we’re doing now at Channel 4 is inventing new things that you can use to really make TV interactive,” says Peace. Channel 4 has been experimenting with ways to create socially augmented TV, and has found particular success with interactive ad breaks. The broadcaster trialled a live interactive pop promo in 2015. The piece, which ran during 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, featured British electronica band Years & Years performing their song Shine. Throughout the show, viewers were able to vote via Twitter to alter the style of video. “People could tweet in #ChooseLight #ChooseDark or #ChooseShadow and every 30 seconds people at home were genuinely able to change what they were seeing on the screen. It was the first time it had been done anywhere in the world. We trended globally on Twitter. In fact, we had more people tune into the ad break to interact with it than actually watched the show.” TURNING ADS INTO REAL-TIME SALES Peace thinks the future potential for advertisers is enormous. “What we would love to do – we haven’t managed it yet – is to work

with a big retailer. It would be fantastic on Black Friday or during the Christmas season to be able to offer different products based on how your sales figures are changing.” Peace envisions a live updated ad break, which would allow a vendor to fine tune its advertising emphasis in real time: “We’ve just run out of apples, but would you like some of these pears?” “If there’s a type of data that’s useful to the life of a TV viewer, then it can be harnessed for greater interactivity,” he notes. “In hay fever season there’s no reason we couldn’t automatically play a spot for one type of medicine if the pollen count is high and a different one when the pollen count is low. “We can decide what adverts are going out minutes before transmission, and those decisions could be based on sales data, social media sentiment, the weather or any other kind of input. That has the potential to make TV advertising a lot more effective.” DRIVEN BY DATA The other thing broadcasters can do, according to Peace, is to take live data from an advertiser’s website and put it directly onscreen. Channel 4 has several popular property shows, which has made the broadcaster an ideal partner for the real estate website RightMove. Peace describes RightMove’s live updated and location tailored ad campaign: “With our property shows, like Location, Location, Location, we know in advance where the show is going to take place. So we can run a live search on the RightMove website directly related to the location audiences are seeing on the programme. Then we can display those figures in an ad. If the show is taking place in Leeds, the RightMove ad can display ‘there are currently 110,000 properties in Leeds’ or ‘there are currently 17 properties in this price range.’

“There are so many ways to be distracted from the core broadcast. You’re never, ever going to get away from that” Scott Davies, 90 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

90 91Technology Neal Interview_final.indd 1

15/09/2017 09:57

TVBE September 2017