Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: TV's New Companion

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: TV's New Companion

Article excerpt

Marketers must adapt to how mobile devices and tablets are changing the TV viewing experience.

Back in the 90s, all the talk was about convergence - the idea that technological devices would evolve to perform similar tasks. Then, we had a TV that showed programmes and stuff we had taped. With games consoles, if we wanted to play other people, they had to come round to our house. We had a mobile, but it was really used only for calls - it didn't even have a camera on it, and although it sent texts, these weren't popular. If we had a computer, it probably wasn't connected to the internet, and it didn't have a soundcard.

The convergence idea was that all these devices would become capable of each other's purpose, and although it caused controversy at the time (the chairman of one media agency ridiculed it, saying nobody would watch TV on their computer) it's now so accepted that nobody really uses the term any more. We think nothing of Skyping relatives in Australia or using our phone to email, while TV apps are one of the fastest-growing uses of iPhones and iPads.

The big screen in our living room, however, has steadfastly resisted all this. A frenzy of innovation over the past few years has created Apple TV, Google TV, Sky Anytime and internet TV, but no clear answer for consumers. Nonetheless, manufacturers are building internet TVs, not as added value, but in an attempt to 'own' the gateway into consumers' homes. While this battle plays out, what's more immediate is what's happening to TV as other devices start to work in synch with it.

Tablets and smartphones, far from being used exclusively out of home, are taking on a role inside the home, alongside the TV.

If you've ever followed Twitter during the BBC's Question Time, it's clear there is an active parallel universe alongside TV as viewers interact with each other. They are highly engaged, but risk becoming diverted from the broadcast content. Brands and broadcasters have a challenge to keep viewers in the fold - hence platforms such as Loyalize that provide games, promotions and participation mechanics for brand and content owners to build around TV programmes for consumption on tablets and smartphones.

There are apps that turn a tablet into a feature-rich remote control for users to share, download and navigate content to display on the device or the big screen. …

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