From the conferences I’ve recently attended there are several web trends that from sheer mentions must be huge next year. I plan on writing my own trend report next week but for now here’s two that I think many people see as trend contenders.

Because of limited web budgets many brands have to choose their big focus for the year. I think most companies are going to invest more in mobile applications for devices like the iPads, Androids etc. as it’s such an obvious move but something they’ll also have to consider is how can their brand interact with social TV. To get a handle on both of these mediums companies need to build apps!

Social TV

Social media is a great indicator of a programmes actual reach, it also allows broadcasters to get a better idea of their audience demographic. But then if you consider the actual demographics of social networks you can see that they’re still not particularly representative of society as a whole. Despite this certain programmes are great case-studies of the way social media has begun to interact with television.

Case study: X-Factor

The most popular reality TV show currently airing (though one I don’t particularly enjoy) is a great example of this. And X-Factor host ITV had already started combining social media with their coverage on their LIVE channel that incorporates Facebook feeds, sing-along applications, links to free X-Factor applications and videos.

There are some great posts out there that explain the X-Factor social media effect and rather than go through it myself here are three of the best:

X-Factor semi-final performances: Gauging audience reaction on YouTube by John Coggin

“Cher has been — and remains — a lightning rod topic among fans. In addition to receiving the most ‘Likes’, last night’s performance of “Love the Way You Lie” has also earned the highest number of “dislikes,” with 637.”

Twitter starts to predict contestant exits from The X-Factor by Mike Butcher

“Social media monitoring company Brandwatch is claiming that it can predict who is about to exit The X-Factor TV “musical competition” based on what’s being said about it on Facebook and Twitter.”

X-Factor Predictions by Matthew Rogers

“If we look at which contestants are attracting the most support on Twitter, Matt Cardle and One Direction are miles ahead of the girls, attracting 378 and 682 ‘win’ mentions respectively.”

Acting on the statistics

“78% of customers trust peer recommendations on sites. While, only 14% trust advertisements” *SMT

“20% of media time is now simultaneous – very often involving TV + the Internet and mobile phones.  Among the under 25s that proportion rises to 29%” *Ofcom

So the next logical step was to connect social media with television. This means people can interact with their favourite sites and watch programmes at the same time.

The biggest name in social TV is YouView which will incorporate both the catch-up TV of a web viewer like iPlayer, on demand, pay TV and search. But the most important and unique addition (we can do all that already on our Sky box) is that YouView is an open development platform. Which means that lots of other people will be able to add applications with their own content. This means that anyone with a broadband connection and YouView box will be able to interact.

At a recent talk at News:Rewired speakers explained the biggest problem. People won’t want their social profiles on display on their computer. One way suggested to avoid this was to focus on specifics like what your friends want to see (an application proving popular on BBC iPlayer).

Making money from social TV

“Also there are legal issues. If the sky man has sex with her then the Virgin media man, the broadband man and the Freeview man, all have to do her as well or it’s undue providence.

(Mitchell and Webb discuss writing porn plots in a season 2 sketch)

YouView contenders include the Virgin Media box which will incorporate the usual plus apps and games. No doubt other providers are considering their approach. Of course unlike YouView much of this will be monetised.

A new way of watching TV means a new way of advertising that marketeers can tap into. There are three ways to monetise the boxes themselves; Pay per purchase; Through advertising and subscription packages.

Advertising can still be done in the traditional manner through television adverts (many of which go viral on social media sites) but one aspect to consider is building great applications for the new TV platforms. We already know about the huge numbers of Angry Bird and Farmville sales so games are one clear route. But anything related to specific TV shows and product placements will do well. The last option is that advertising companies are starting to combine with TV and film to place more products in productions. One tool that was suggested helps brands do this is Myriad.

Plus, if social TV becomes the norm sites like Facebook and Twitter are bound to do well as more people are exposed to them.


Last week I reported that Stephen Haines of Facebook explained that in 2011 Facebook will focus on their mobile site. And if the biggest social network on the world is focussing on it then it’s got to be huge. Mobile phone applications are big business. The CEO of Domino’s UK and Ireland recently reported that they’ve made nearly a million pounds from their iPhone application and new app-based technologies are being released all the time.

So where do we go from here?

In my opinion brands have several important things to consider.

  • Does our audience user social sites?
  • How does my site look on all mobile devices?
  • What apps would our users find useful to have in their pocket?
  • Do we monetise our app?
  • Does building an app enhance our brand image?
  • How do we maintain the application once it’s built?

3 great posts on marketing and apps


My conclusion: Applications on both social TV and mobile are going to provide great insight for brands on their web-based audience which will in turn mean that applications and TV programmes will be created and cut depending on what the user/viewer wants. It’s a more cut-throat world for brands but it ultimately means that there is even more power to the people in an area that up until now people were mostly dictated to on.

Like with tapping into social networks brands both big and small will need to recognise where their users are and adapt to suit them. They’ll have to provide quality applications to stay on viewing platforms and draw in viewers.


So what will your brand concentrate on in 2011, social TV, mobile or perhaps something else?

3 responses »

  1. This is a fantastic run-down Charlotte! Superb post.

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