By Zachary Weiner
If you followed the last post (found here), you’ll remember that I said that there are many methods of monetizing Social TV. Some of these are direct….. which, keep waiting…I will REALLY delve into deep quite soon. That said, many elements are indirect, of which viewer engagement is of extreme importance.
While we spoke last time about how social share can drive eyeballs in real time, this doesn’t necessarily mean these eyeballs are staying with us, or for that matter, staying truly focused on our content or ads. This is why rather than chatting on engagement today, we will especially focus on re-engagement. We often mention initial engagement factors solely when we chat on Social TV initiatives in their external forms (outside of programming). We need this externally oriented engagement to build viewership, visibility, loyalty and intrigue, but we need ongoing re-engagement to keep eyeballs for the length of our programming our ads and our calls to action.
When we talk about engagement we have to look at two very separate factions. The first is engagement with the program off hours and supplemental to direct content. We are seeing some exceptional campaigns to engage users and build show “brands” by creating digital assets that seek to engage watchers before or after they are watching. I.E. “We built this site to bring fans into the action.” We built this community on FB to allow fans to converse and discover related content” We built this asset to allow conversation between cast and watchers” “We’re engaging in X form of Transmedia to keep watchers involved across platforms and in the real world.”
This is vastly powerful. But it’s easy to forget that the greatest levels of engagement must be found during the programming/ as part of the programming. This is where engagement must be broken down between in-program re-engagement as separate to external life cycle engagement. Real time in-program Re-engagement is the area seeing the least amount of resource dedicated towards it. It seems content is speaking for itself, not a bad thing, but no matter how great the content, today’s digital seeks more.
First lets go into the dire warning factors as to why not just engagement, but re-engagement is becoming ever more important.
Choice: No matter how interesting off-show engagement elements might be and how involved we allow viewers to become with our show brands, in the actual moment of watching our viewers have a myriad of options of what to watch and for how long they watch, whether they’ve been drawn in by social share or not. Outside of just an ever-increasing amount of “Channels”, we also have a wealth of on-demand as well as over the top content to fragment attention. As well as ever-greater increases of user generated content that takes place in both short or long form. This means that even if my user just joined an amazing community somehow built around a show, or got involved in an offline campaign or viewing as a social share – at the moment they decide to watch something, they have countless options of what that might be and for how long they watch before switching.
Attention shifting: Even while watching my programming, viewers have a million other elements they might be engaged with in their digital galaxies outside of that first engagement via social share. Are my watchers focused on 100% of my program, or is 50% going to other digital endeavors? Are they only really 20% focused, while the rest of their attention is going to online shopping, Facebook, online news? In most cases without proper usage, the second screen for all of its glory is driving user attention away from television programming.
Time-shifting. This is not new, but it means that my watcher has the freedom to watch when they want to watch. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but without a call to action to watch at a certain budgeted time frame, well…DVR’s get pretty filled up with a lot of programming- content that is not my programming and my programming has a much easier ability to get lost in the shuffle or budgeted for a later date that may never come. This also means that my program may not get the social share it deserves as the conversation isn’t occurring in real time either.
So while Social TV monetization step one might be to drive eyeballs, it‘s not enough. While incredible Social TV campaigns seek to drive these eyeballs, we need direct, in the moment and throughout the programming methods to keep eyeballs glued. Again, an everlasting cycle of re-engagement that moves past the initial social share.
How can we not just engage, but Re-engage?
1) Our Second Screens must be not just be correlated to programming, but in direct with conjunction with it. Check-ins are great. Related topical information found on second screen apps are great. (If it doesn’t, then lead the viewer to a plethora of other topics) Secondary/extra and “digital only” content is especially great. But this doesn’t always create the deep engagement needed to keep viewers glued over and over again in the moment and prevent attention fragmentation.
Our second screen has the ability to directly involve the viewer with what they are watching. Choose your own adventure type formats, where direct audience participation influences what is being watched in real time. Again, polls, votes, questions, games and viewer choice formats mean that our viewers must be present to take part. They must be paying attention to our 2nd screen assets to participate and paying attention to our first screen to see the results of their participation. Their attention in other words must be in a constant closed loop with our content and to do that, they need continued calls to action to keep involved. These need not all be lean forward by any means, but lean back with simple functionalities and creative calls to action.
2) Our greatest efforts on social media community building must also take place during the exact time of the programming. We want to engineer new and original digital water cooler conversation during the airing of a program. Social share, plus before and after social endeavors/assets can get the viewer to where we want them to be, but making them stay there is the holy grail. Conversation spurring initiatives that take place during the programming means our viewers won’t miss out on the social aspect taking place during the show as they are consistently engaged directly during airtime. They are not left out. Nobody wants to be left out. Any way we can engage social TV elements to spur conversation in general to drive viewership is fantastic. Engineering conversation however to timely elements occurring during the show, means that we bypass time shifting. We bypass other content they could be flipping over to and we bypass the ability for them to be absorbed in other digital endeavors.
3) We need to create Television experiences. I have said this many times before. In order to keep up with up modern consumer behavior our television watching has to have an element of “I need to watch in order to partake”. Not an “I’ll watch when I decide to” experience, but an effect like crowd sourced theater. If you want to take part in the full experience, you have to be involved in the full experience. You cannot gain this exceptional experience without being at it for the full event, at the exact time and without full attention. So, in order to engage, re-engage and drive new revenue, we must drive new experiences. These experiences must have strong calls to action before, during and after the programming and all must be engineered to be an experience that takes place across an entire life cycle. When we can do this, when we can build social communities and intrigue before a program, re-engage an audience after an initial social share throughout the program, and than allow that audience to gain even more value once the program is over…well…We can monetize Social TV in ways that have never before been seen. We can boost our revenue over all those gaining only 50% of mindshare, to 100% full engaged, re-engaged and ready to do it all over again watchers.
So lets complicate our very simple formula we set forth last time: (I promise, this will be the last equation)
Original: Social interactions=Greater Visibility= Greater eyeballs= Greater revenue
New Version: Social interactions=Greater visibility= Greater eyeballs Multiplied by In-program re-engagement across devices= Far greater and long term revenue