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Connected TVs have gained significant attention over the last year, in particular at the recent Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention and this week at MIPCOM, and it’s only set to continue.

The BBC launched an updated version of its iPlayer for web-connected TVs, Sony and Opera teamed up to provide web browsing capabilities on the platform.

Meanwhile, Audi launched the UK’s first web-connected TV campaign to promote its A7 Sportback range, not to mention the impending launches of Google TV and YouView.

While it’s clear the market is gearing up for the complete emergence of connected TVs, it seems broadcasters are still unsure about the platform.

It was recently reported from the RTS Convention that “broadcasters are not yet ready to embrace internet-connected television platforms, due in part to the lack of control they would have over the advertising appearing next to their content”. 

What broadcasters need to understand is that this phenomenon is happening regardless.

Market research and consulting firm DisplaySearch has predicted that, by 2014, 123m internet-connected TV units will be shipped worldwide annually, and In-Stat in the US estimates that over 60% of connected households will use a TV app at least once a week.

In addition, Facebook has announced that users will be able to discover and share music, movies and news reports on the site and partnering with Netflix it now allows users to stream video from the online movie service.

With the growth of connected TVs, Facebook could dominate a large proportion of audience share and essentially edge closer to becoming a broadcast channel.

For the connected TV to deliver on its promise it needs to reach its full potential and become an indispensible tool for the customer to access, interact and engage with content.

However, that content has to create and deepen the viewer experience and relationship, whether it’s via traditional programming or branded advertising. As David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4 outlined in his speech for the Royal Television Society, “we are here to serve audiences and interests in new and innovative ways”.

As with most technology, TVs are getting smarter and the data is becoming richer. Channel 4 has launched its Viewer Engagement Strategy in order to provide better insight into viewer behaviours and preferences and this can only lead to more targeted advertising.

Audiences don’t want to be served the same ad, they already have the ability to choose their favourite TV programming and films, and with greater personalisation it can lead to greater advocacy and purchase.

EyeView research showed that online users who received a personalised ad garnered a full 100% improvement in the level of favourability toward a brand. Integrate social media as well, and programmes or brands can be recommended to the viewer based on their likes and friends.
Each player for connected TVs has a role; the broadcasters and media owners, brands and agencies. It could ultimately reveal a whole new digital landscape, with new regulations and revenue opportunities for all.

Sir Martin Sorrell has claimed there is a “disconnect between what consumers are doing and what clients are doing,” however, it seems more prevalent from recent debates that the disconnect is between broadcasters and advertisers.  

The industry it seems is well aware of the benefits and significance of internet-connected TVs, but appears disjointed in its approach to a strategy.

Connected TVs have created a new playing field, one that will serve audiences in a smarter and more engaging way. Until broadcasters accept this smarter platform, audiences will be the ones to suffer. 

Chris Gorell Barnes

Published 5 October, 2011 by Chris Gorell Barnes

Chris Gorell Barnes is CEO of Adjust Your Set and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can also follow him on Twitter

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