Over the last two instalments I have looked at how user experiences, emotional and physical, have a bearing on finding the right method of communicating.

Behavioural advertising as effective as it can be, will still be limited to the final placement of the advert; the message may be correct in terms of sequence to the purchase lifecycle, but lost by not appropriating effectively to the method of display. However, sequencing is only one aspect of creative execution, what about synchronisation.

In the display ad world of online, when two ads appear at the same time, they can ‘talk’ to each other and creative can flow from one into the other. It is intrinsically powerful. This is called synchronisation.

With more and more of us now doing multiple-things simultaneously, accessing the internet whilst watching television for instance, should the message be the same across the devices, sequenced across both or synchronised through adaption across both?

MultiPlatform Programming

The concept of convergence is not about pushing re-purposed entertainment content to multiple devices, but to enhance an experience across an entire media mix. It is what Henry Jenkins calls ‘TransMedia Story Telling’, in his book “Convergence Culture”. The concept is that no one-person could ever get the entire story by consuming content on any one device themselves and demands interplay with several devices, but most importantly interplay with another person(s). It is using inter-episode viewer engagement to create the ‘water cooler’ moment. Let me illustrate this for you.

Consider three women around the water cooler in an office.

Did you see that guy appear in the soap on TV last night, I mean where did he come from?”
“Oh I have been following him on the website for ages, he is so-and-so’s son and used to be married to ‘x’”
“No, where did you get all that?”
“Ah it’s been on the video footage online for ages, he even has his own blog.”
Someone else pipes in, “yes I get his daily antics sent to my phone each morning, did you know last night he did this?” – and proceeds to show the MMS photo to her two friends.

TV influencing web, influencing mobile, influencing TV and around and around it goes… affording people the best experience across multiple devices.

Participation TV

But what about the technologies behind the scenes? Well in terms of real-time simultaneous viewing, there are two key thoughts:

  • Synchronised Television: also known as ‘two-screen’ or ‘synchronous solutions’. This is where web applications may be synchronised with the TV broadcast, enabling information about a TV show to be accessed via the internet; either on a mobile phone or laptop PC, enhance the experience by providing further information.
  • NanoGaming: This is where you play on your computer while you watch on TV, rating programmes or predicting TV events, and turning a ‘lean back’ passive viewing experience into a ‘lean forward’ online community game, to not only participate, but build communities, answering questions and polls or re-calling things you have just seen.

But how will this translate into advertising? I believe it will provide a real-time social connection between brand and content across any and every device.

TransMedia Advertising.

Taking the same concept of storytelling from an advertising point of view, consider how the following could allow multiple touch points for a sports brand. I am going to be deliberately over simplistic.

  • On TV, Footballer talking in front of an ‘Adidas’ back board
    • Also wearing an ‘Adidas’ Shirt
    • The Adidas logo is clickable via ‘red button’ to launch content, which leads to Adidas channel, which can be stored in schedule
  • On Web, video content has Adidas bumper slot
    • Character jumps into adjacent banner and waits for interaction
    • User controls interaction and kicks ‘Adidas’ ball into other banner
    • Success ‘in net’ reveals data-capture for competition
    • Spend a day with the team and load of Adidas goodies
  • Links to mobile phone to provide viral video short
    • Text back answers to questions contained in viral
  • TV show discusses answers that are coming through

Now in many cases this is not too far from where we are right now, except for the fact that there is no correlation of time in the present, i.e. creative’s are being designed for devices assuming the user will not simultaneously consume. In the above example, the user is interacting with the three devices right there in the living room, and that opens up a whole new ‘ball game’.

Could the ball get kicked out of the TV and appear on your laptop, in the same way as one banner talks to another on the web? Could you send it across to your mobile, play a game and high scores are being revealed live on the TV show? Now are you seeing the possibilities?

For anyone following the press over the last couple of months, this cross-channel TransMedia advertising is getting one step closer to a graspable reality all the time.

The problem with television at the moment is that adverts are hard-coded, not inserted live. Watch a programme from three years ago and get a three-year old advert, just as you do when you look at a three-year old newspaper. But look at three-year old content online and adverts are live NOW, and potentially sequenced to your previous behaviour.

As TV becomes IPTV and becomes truly digital, I can be watching a TV programme in a hotel room in Frankfurt and the advert can be targeted to me as an Englishman about changing my mortgage from my bank. Not only that but TV content could become relevant to me by ‘Place-Shifting’ with devices like SlingBox who already have a mobile version available.

Back in April this year, Google already announced its plans for TV ads:

Then more recently, DoubleClick announced a partnership with Visible World’s IntelliSpot system, that allows you to create a range of creative executions targeted to a range of consumers, kind of like personalised TV ads.

Although a step in the right direction, it would seem that placing advertising content against meta-content in a video stream in real-time is still in the infant realms of the digital world right now, (e.g. frame 128-164 is keyword “Audi”, upon replay insert “Audi” hotspot to play “Audi” ad), and then serving that in a behavioural sequence to create ‘follow me advertising for the TV’, but it is this kind of activity that Eyeblaster and Brightcove are working to produce.

One thing is for sure, PreRoll is a mere temporary solution to get TV advertisers to place ads online against mostly short-length or user-generated content. As 30 sec TV ads are waning in the TV world, why anyone things they will ultimately work long-term against short content online when users are just flicking around is beyond me, but that’s a whole other discussion…