Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twiiter Ad Targeting + Comcast Show It -- Crossing the Chasm?

Two very interesting moves toward mass market Interactive TV and T-commerce were made recently, and I suggest putting them together will lead to a major step beyond.

Twitter announced that its ad targeting now allows advertisers to send you promoted tweets if you tweet about a program during which their ad appeared.  A one-two punch, to follow up on the TV ad impression. A crude but clever way to synchronize Internet with TV, but potentially on massive scale, and thus a big step.  You tweet; that tells them what you are watching; they know what ads air with it; and let the advertisers tweet you. There are better ways (such as ACR and triggers), but not in wide deployment (but that will come).

Comcast announced that it is working with Twitter and NBC to enable tweets to include a Show It button that when clicked, tunes your TV to the program that was tweeted about (or sets your DVR to record it).  That is if you have Comcast's new X1 set top box. In any case you can also view the video on your Twitter device (second screen on phone or tablet). Comcast says they hope this will become a standard, used by other networks and distribution partners.

Given the scale of Twitter and Comcast, this could finally get Interactive TV across the chasm. Their reach can bring it to the masses, show the economic imperative, and lead to far richer versions. If the money is shown to be there, along with the mass market to deliver it, that will launch a major build-out.

[***Update 12/12:  A nice analyst commentary by Joel Espelien that agrees on the importance of these moves (in spite of little press attention) was posted today. (In the I almost told you so department, I had this post largely complete in mid-October, but let it sit as a draft until this week.)]

Soon:  Once these first steps take hold, other advanced features will be easy to add.

Some of this is suggested by Comcast: expansion to Facebook, and presumably any other Web service or app. This enables the idea of "the Web as program guide" that I described in my CoTV work,
...where all media types can be fully interlinked, in a manner that is fully consistent. Hotspots can serve as link anchors whether in text, image or video, and targets can be of any media type -- rich combinations of hypermedia browsing and navigation across devices.
It also seems that one valuable enhancement in TV advertising will be easy: telescoping ads synchronized across two screens.  From an ad on your TV to a video follow up on your phone or tablet. This has been done for years on some TV platforms, but not on a scale that gets much recognition or much interest from advertisers. But there is money there, if it reaches scale.

Telescoping to a second screen could be easy with Twitter Ad Targeting combined with See It with just one small twist.
  • As it is now, See It is described as linking to a program, in the sense of content you could select by channel, or from a program guide. Nice, but what about advertising?
  • As it could be, it might also enable links to advertising video-on-demand.  Comcast may have enabled this already, but if not, it should not be hard to add.
That enables telescoping across two screens. Ad Targeting flags a viewer who is seeing the ad on TV, and sends a link to his companion device that links (via See It) to a commercial video that picks up from there. A 15 or 30 second spot can link to a longer form video that drives home the message -- and can also include an online call to action, with all of the ease of interaction via a phone or tablet. All with widely deployed and widely used technology.

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