Social TV is a personal interest of mine. Although not blogged here, I have presented my thoughts on social TV and have been fortunate enough to work on projects for clients such as BBC (Strictly Come Dancing), UKTV Gold, Alibi, Dave and the successful Dynamo: Magician Impossible on Watch; to developing Call of Duty TV for Activision to support the promotion of Black Ops and MW3 using Facebook as the broadcasting platform.
The area of focus for this post is the consumption of the TV companion app, in particular Zeebox. The announcement today (09.01.12) that BSkyB have invested in the app is exciting for broadcasters and advertisers alike. Not to mention for us - the marketer and end user.
From an innovation perspective, Zeebox as a companion app falls into the strategic evolution quadrant of the innovation framework. It does not revolutionise per se, rather it takes advantage of already revolutionary technologies such as smart phones/tablets (iOS, Android) social networks (Twitter/Facebook), broadband, app stores (cloud technology), all of which contribute to the ecosystem of social TV.
Zeebox however, does have the opportunity to further disrupt marketing and the TV industry which I will briefly focus on further down.
To date, there are a plethora of TV companion apps out there that compete with Zeebox. What sits in Zeebox’s favour is not just the investment from BSkyB (tapping into a 15 million user base is a clear advantage) but the pedigree of their founders (Anthony Rose, Designer of the iPlayer and Ernesto Schmitt founder of peoplesound). Both of these guys have disrupted the music and television industry before, and are looking to do so again.
This coupled with ripe tech market conditions, should make Zeebox a success not just here in the UK, but I hope also in the US too.
One only has to analyse the 2012 trends from the many sources that exist, to understand that 2012 is apparently the year for smart phones, tablets, and apps to hit critical mass.
Where I personally think Zeebox has the potential to disrupt marketing is in the following areas (please refer to PONBE and the marketing comms framework for the following):
Agencies and broadcasters will look to partner with Zeebox to customise their show page (borrowed media) and simultaneously develop both owned and borrowed media (Facebook/Twitter) campaigns to compliment their show page on Zeebox.
One current example of a broadcaster opening up Zeebox’s API is E4’s Desperate Scousewives. The show page (borrowed media) has been customised and owned media (E4 web content and bespoke content) has been incorporated.
Marketers should not regard Zeebox as THE destination, rather a platform where owned and borrowed media converge during broadcast, and engagement can be facilitated.
As with setting up any borrowed media property, it is imperative that a strategy and objectives are in place for using the platform as some shows will benefit from a 2 screen experience better than others.
TV spend still dominates big brand budgets. So there is no doubt that media agencies on behalf of broadcasters and brands will be looking to test budget on Zeebox ads. The fact that you can measure engagement through the platform will help. But, more importantly, I’d be really interested to know if Zeebox themselves will sell ‘Zeetag’ social data directly to media companies and broadcasters? This business model is already in place for similar companion apps in the US e.g. Social Guide, and there is a huge market for more intelligent social data by media companies that will compliment Neilsen, especially when it comes to television advertising and audience engagement. Check out Bluefin labs in the US for more info on leading edge social TV data.
For me personally, the opportunity is for broadcasters and brands to work in partnership on paid media content that could use audio watermarking technology built into the Zeebox app during adverts.
Because the app also allows users to login via Facebook, social commerce via audio watermarked ads could easily be facilitated, and therefore social CRM can be executed. Think of the UK show ‘Come Dine With Me’, which is a social TV favourite and Hardys Wine whom sponsor this show. Not only is there an opportunity to serve up bespoke content via Zeebox using audio watermarking, but you can drive users through to Facebook to purchase custom wine bottles at a discount during that time window, therefore linking TV, to social commerce to social CRM which is all measurable!
The biggest opportunity for disruption lies with real-time marketing. Brands (advertisers) have the opportunity to hi-jack conversations on Zeebox show pages by producing ads in real-time that are contextually relevant to the show’s content.
IKEA has already shown the success in 2011 of iterative, real time ads as part of their 2011 365 campaign. Let’s see what brands will do this year to further develop on this marketing activity.
Whilst the above examples are not an exhaustive list, I could have delved into the buzzwords of storytelling and dare I say it ‘transmedia’ (shit it’s typed now). The creative possibilities for tinkering with the platform are endless, and coupled with positive network effects (tipping the app into Sky’s user base), 2012 could be a good year for Zeebox.