Social TV Advertising And Monetization Elements

Part 1: Driving revenue via Social Share

If there is any question that seems to be playing on repeat these days, it’s "how do we monetize Social TV?" It is pondered and asked regardless of platforms and mediums, whether we are talking about companion apps, traditional 2nd screens or connected TV. The bottom line is that when we talk about digital socialization around television, there is a gap of information as to how we can commercialize emerging TV formats.  

I personally hear many individuals extolling the benefits of deeper engagement, audience loyalty, brand building and community building in answer to this question. However, after these are mentioned, there is often a glazed over look that accompanies the faces of those in the TV and advertising industries. The above benefits are by no means trivial. They are crucial in every way, shape and form to our industry’s future and I will certainly do them some justice moving forward, by diving in deep and discussing their own complexities….but not just yet.
This article is going to be a multi-part series, and will serve as a primer to a more (spoiler alert) comprehensive white-paper that will be releasing on the subject of emerging television monetization. In the next part, I will go over my favorite subject- advertising integrations and what sorts of new or modified revenue streams we can dream up when dissecting the social TV space and connected viewers. For now however, I wanted to start incredibly slow and with a topic very few seem to ever bring up. What I like to call monetization via Social share.  
Social Share Basics:
The basis of the idea is that when we allow people to digitally socialize around television it has an effect of greatly increasing the number of watchers. This falls outside of the idea of basic community building and into the area of directly influencing viewership numbers. This effect can occur in leaps and bounds as there is an instantaneous marketing interaction that happens the moment viewers begin to socialize around their programming. As chatter and conversation happen, one or many individuals allow their watching to become visible and communicated on a mass scale, and produce calls to action to tune in to exactly what they are watching in the moment. 
Lets take an example of how social share works in the brick and mortar world so we can better tie it in to the world of television, social media and convergence. This is a well-documented area that is simple to understand and see in action. My sister is a shopping fanatic. A few weeks ago I was on my way to meet her for lunch and an hour or so before, I received a mass text that she had sent to numerous friends. “Amazing secret sale at Nordstroms, come check it out!” I, having low interest, kept driving and eventually met her at a restaurant near the mall. What was supposed to be me and her at lunch had then turned into her and a few of her friends who had met her at Nordstroms, all of whom had bags and bags of newly bought sale items. 
Her text message served as a call to action to her friends of something worthy of attention and possible action. Based on this social share, Nordstroms received far more sales than they would have if she had never sent that text. This is a very basic word of mouth effect that has been documented time and time again. Real time sharing of information often creates real world monetization. 
Empowering this effect however with modern social media, greatly extends the reach of any form of communication. If my sister had sent out that text as a tweet instead, there is a good chance that her friends would have still seen it, but it would also have had the chance to be seen by anybody else in the twittersphere. A previously untapped audience of others who might also have been interested in a "secret" sale, allowing Nordstroms to receive a massive earned social share that drove actual sales in the moment. 
In TV, we sell eyeballs. Whether we are selling subscriptions or advertising, more eyeballs equals more monetary potential. When one individual tweets what they are watching, or an element that came up in the show, the interaction instantly creates online visibility and a call to attention to watch. “My friend/colleague/neighbor/ is watching this- perhaps I should be too.”  “They are talking about Italy on my favorite travel show, I am going to Italy in May, I should check it out”. Even social elements that may seem unrelated to the programming may have some form of symbolism to a potential watcher. It’s water cooler chatter that can be instantly acted upon, the moment the program is aired. More tweets/posts about a show occurring in real time means more watchers becoming aware of the show. More watchers equals more eyeballs and eyeballs, as discussed, are revenue. We drive folks tuned into their digital media straight to a correlated television experience. 
If we can start to create more calls to action to chat, and easier methodologies to enable this form of participation, we create thousands, or even millions of word of mouth marketers in real time. More chatter equates to more visibility, which guessed it even more chatter, creating an eventual domino effect to bring in greater viewership. This is one of the greatest powers of Social TV. Audience driving. With the wealth of potential programming for viewers to watch however, we need strategies to create the highest levels of socialization and separate from the rest of the pack.  
Elements that are needed to socially drive audiences: 
A reason to chat about programming: This may be something content related, promotion related, or strictly topical. Whatever the reason, content creators can bring forth elements that drive social conversation. New formats of onscreen interaction can also create a stronger call to action. Launching tweets on air for example, gives watchers the ability to potentially communicate across mass mediums- digital and broadcast. The possibility of seeing their own commentary launched live or even as part of the programming is an exceptional method to reward chatter.  
An ability to easily interact via social media. This is part of the power of the 2nd Screen or connected TV. We can allow watchers to communicate via social media traditionally or with correlated companion applications that allow a more seamless transition to conversation. Social Media integrated directly in with the programming and correlated to programming elements. 
Interactive Differentiation: The ability to conceptualize new interactive elements provides the greatest potential for differentiation. By allowing audiences to vote, participate in polls and questions, engage in live promotions and converse in new ways, allows us tocreate items that can be directly visible across social media and directly chatted about. We create complex television engagements that do more than just drive engagement; they also drive greater visibility and program marketing. 
Social interactions=Greater Visibility= Greater eyeballs= Greater revenue. 
A simple formula which we will delve into in greater levels on the next post. Until then, tweet us @neverno and let us know your thoughts.