Does Smart TV Feature in Your Digital Strategy?

Smart TV is the next seismic shift in marketing that will bring interactivity into the home at a faster rate than any other technology uptake – and it’ll take a new way of thinking for brands to drive ROI.

In this article, I’ll cover the rationale for needing to incorporate smart TV into your strategy and why it’s so different to anything you’ve done before.

In case you haven’t seen a smart TV, they look just like any Plasma/LCD/LED TV, but they’ve got a whole lot of intelligence. This allows users to browse the Internet, interact with content and friends – basically, it turns your TV into a low-fi computer. They offer apps, like mobile phones do. For example, Samsung’s App Platform is SmartHub and already provides loads of popular installed apps like Twitter, Hulu, Pandora, AccuWeather, and ESPN.

“Where there are compelling things to watch, the Internet becomes a major source of entertainment. We are now seeing a second stage of evolution as Internet video relocates from a PC screen onto the TV screen,” said Paul Gray, TV Electronics Research, NPD DisplaySearch.

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That’s all exciting, but why is smart TV such a shift for content delivery?

Well firstly, personal devices (phones, tablets, and PCs) are the only way people engage with digital, interactive content – and it’s a private or solo experience.

Image Source: Family in living room via Shutterstock.

For the first time, content can be delivered digitally, and therefore interactively into the TV, inherently becoming a shared experience, with all kinds of people – friends, housemates, parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, and even your pets!

Over the last few years, we’ve all worked hard to shift our thinking in content delivery to target users’ individual needs. But that thinking doesn’t apply when there are four people watching the same device. Also, what someone will interact with; admit to; search for; or consume will be heavily influenced by the people sitting next to them. Because it’s removing the privacy that personal devices deliver so effectively.

Secondly, it’s physical. The practical distance between you and your device creates a whole new dynamic in interaction.

Image Source: Playing with Kinnect via Shutterstock.

When a mobile device or computer is at your fingertips you have keyboards, mice, and touchscreens to control the experience to the micro level. In response, manufacturers are developing motion and audio controls hardwired into the TV set. But these inputs create a completely new way of interaction, so brands will need to adapt or ideally design content to suit these new and varied inputs.

The physical distance also means you consume the content differently. Big slabs of text won’t work, small graphics will be lost, audio is critical, and video will be expected. The list goes on.

Most importantly, the user’s state of mind is completely different.

Image Source: Man lying on sofa watching TV via Shutterstock.

TV is a passive, lean-back experience, where content is delivered to the user with minimal effort – where personal devices have the user in a state of active content engagement. At the other end of the spectrum, think about search, the ultimate “active engagement” channel – users are seeking out a very specific piece of content; the experience expected through TV is so much more laid back, non-interactive, and passive.

With all this in mind, smart TV is here and growing – faster than any other media in history.

In Q1 2012, smart TVs made up 27 percent of televisions shipped globally, led by Japan at 37 percent and China at 32 percent. (Source: EE Times)

“The estimated take-up rates put the nascent medium on track to outpace almost all other media technologies within their first four years, including DVDs, VCRs, the internet and pay-TV,” according to a PwC Entertainment and Media Outlook report released last week. (Source: The Australian)

So these devices are being purchased, connected, and utilized at rates faster than all other technology, even the hugely successful iPads. And if you’re already investing in your mobile or social strategy, you should start investing in your smart TV strategy.

My advice is to start developing your smart TV strategy now and ride the wave of this seismic shift in marketing and consumer engagement.

1. Find a smart TV at your local retailer. If you can’t buy it, play with it for a while.
2. Think about the role of your brand in a shared user experience.
3. Adapt and design your content for the new digital physical experience – TV apps and interactive ads.
4. Understand the state of mind of your consumers when they’re interacting with TV.
5. Integrate smart TV as a channel within your overall digital, content, and media strategy.
6. Prototype, test, and trial.

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