Sunday, April 28, 2013

Survivor TV: Social Media Makes Marginal TV Programming a Hit

There is a lot of talk these days about how no one watches television anymore.  As we know, the almighty advertising dollar, like it or not, drives most of the content decisions on television.  If the audience goes away, so does the advertising revenue, and ultimately, so does the content. 

Rumors of the death of television are greatly exaggerated
In the Mashable article “TV Advertising Still Dominant,Still Growing,” author Lauren Indvik discusses the projected trends in advertising spend, as reported by, showing television as dominant, and more importantly, continuing to dominate, the ad spending landscape through 2017.  While the gap in television versus digital spend is closing, television will remain the big kahuna.

Multitasking:  the new normal
Meanwhile, social media habits clearly influence how consumers use television content, but not necessarily all content.  Advertising Age’s Simon Dimenco and Senior VP/Director of Digital Strategy at Hill Holliday, Mike Proulx, discuss social-TV analytics in a recent Q&A article, and the so-called “Twitter TV Rating,” on tap for a fall, 2013 rollout from Nielsen, after the merger with SocialGuide.  The acquisitions of SocialGuide by Nielsen, and Bluefin Labs by Twitter, imply that measurement metrics convergence is imminent.  Is there a correlation between ratings and social media chatter?  For now, the jury is out.      

“Twitter TV ratings?”
While the MTV Awards and VMA’s generate a ton of social media buzz, other events, such as the tribute to Whitney Houston at the last Grammy Awards, not so much.  A respectful social media community, perhaps?   In these cases, social media buzz was inversely related to the TV rating.  One theory:  you can stay current on the VMA’s, for example, without actually watching the telecast.  The corollary:  for other genres, like drama programs, well, you just need to be there. Plus, the sense of urgency tends to wane when time-shifted programs are viewed.

The related complexity that arises here is the disposition of the consumer.  For example, some are social media introverts and for others, it’s just too much work.  As Proulx astutely points out, “The mass audience still uses TV as a means to veg, as a means to unwind.  And if that’s the case, do they want to be, for all intents and purposes, working when they’re watching television?”

So, as they say in the TV biz, stay tuned.  With the healthy prognosis for television ad spend, there will be a lot more to come in this quest for quantifiable and actionable TV+social media measurement.

About Susan McLeod  
Susan McLeod is President of media management firm Conroy Media, Ltd. in Willowbrook, Illinois ( and is a masters candidate at Medill/Northwestern University's online IMC program.  Follow her on Twitter at @SusanMcLeod.

1 comment:

  1. I manage the marketing and advertising for multiple brands within an auto insurance holding company, and can attest that TV remains the dominant source of awareness-building and lead generation within our highly competitive industry. While social efforts are growing across our brands, TV continues to deliver the best recall rates (over radio and outdoor), requires less effort (than social)and helps establish us as the perceived "anchors" for our low cost niche within the communities we do business. Great article,'re right on the mark! CH-AIHI