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Blurred Lines: The Rise of Social Media TV

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

Talk about blurred lines. In an age where the Oscars can break Twitter, the Venn diagram of social media and television advertising is fast becoming one big circle. The portability of tablets, smartphones and lightweight laptops combined with short viewer attention spans and hashtags built right into primetime shows like Fox’s Glee and NBC’s The Voice has built a fertile ground for marketers to work their magic.

use of hashtags on the voiceThe adoption of TV recording technology such as TiVo and DVR (dubbed “time-shifted viewing”) has been troubling brands for over a decade. Canned TV complicates the issue of tracking Nielsen ratings, not to mention that it puts the remote control (and fast forward button) front and center for consumers who don’t feel like sitting through commercials. Savvy marketers have gone above and beyond product placement to run ads and media prompts during popular shows, hoping to lure loyal viewers to their apps and social channels. The cross-platform push that began with tweet-focused voting on American Idol has now become commonplace. What’s next? Gartner predicts that second-screen devices combined with customized content, interactive apps and loyalty programs will fuel the behavior of social TV consumers through 2014 and beyond.

Fox sells products during New Girl via its FoxNow app.According to Business Insider, 88% of US smartphone owners used their mobile devices as a second screen while watching TV in 2013. With a comScore report placing the number of US-based smartphone users at 147.9 million this past September, the opportunities for brand awareness are staggering. Companies like Oreo have seized upon this opportunity to build social TV engagement, using real-time media campaigns (like the legendary Superbowl lights out ad) and television event-based hashtags to get a buzz going on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. What’s mindblowing about Samsung’s product placement at the Oscars is that viewers not only witnessed host Ellen DeGeneres snapping a selfie and sharing it on Twitter using a Galaxy Note; she then prompted everyone watching to hop on and retweet — a live, celebrity call to action essentially guaranteed to make the content go viral.

Ellen snaps a selfie.While Ellen’s record-breaking tweet during the awards show never mentioned Samsung by name, the electronics giant was mentioned 40,000 times across social media outlets during the broadcast, according to big data company Kontera. That the pre-meditated stunt was not out of character for Ellen makes the success of the campaign all the more impressive; it’s clear that Samsung chose the right spokesperson to align with their brand. Though it’s unlikely most brands will be able to mirror Samsung’s Oscars ad spend, the intersection of social media and television has the potential to deliver huge rewards if executed properly.

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