Advertisers: Join The “Happy, Peppy People” in Social TV

For the past several years, it’s been hard to think of any television program that airs on broadcast or cable be referred to as “appointment television”  in the traditional sense…like when people cleared their calendar every Thursday for The Cosby Show.  Since the advent of the DVR, the rise and popularity of Hulu, iTunes episodes and networks airing their programs on their own websites, television viewing has become t.v. on demand.  Some argue that t.v. watching is dead.

The fact of the matter is, TV has benefited from internet use by television viewers…particularly around social media.  “TV has become an inflection point for social media and that promotes appointment viewing.  The interest to participate in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter drives you to want to watch live TV.”  This is according to PriceWaterhouse Coopers executive, Russell Sapienza (, June, 2012). It is estimated that broadcast and cable network television will collectively claim $56 billion in advertising revenue by 2016(, June, 2012).  While many viewers find that their favorite shows like Mad Men are on cable, still, broadcast is the medium to reach a large audience quickly, for many large national advertisers.  Taking a look at recent viewership of Mad Men vs NCIS, the AMC favorite attracted 2.7 million viewers, while 8.67 million tuned in to NCIS (, June, 2012).

TV advertising has come a long way since Lucy shamelessly promoted “Vitameatavegamin

How exactly has the internet resuscitated television viewing, especially among teens… “Social TV.” USA Network is, in fact, planning to launch six “social TV” tie-ins, targeted to superfans (www.adweek, May, 2012). As part of their digital integration program, the network’s show, Covert Affairs will include a video-based, role-playing game generated in partnership with Capital One.  The secondary character, Augie, will get a richer backstory as a result and because this is being shot in Spain, the sponsor gets an exotic location in which to tout its services.  In Suits, Lexus will sponsor that show’s integration.  In this show, there is a game component that will allow viewers to join the show’s law firm in one of two capacities and Twitter/Facebook style social feed will be established enabling fans to talk to each other about the progress of the story(www.adweek, May, 2012).

Fans get proprietary info and in order to reach the end of the story, each user has to find a different character class to share their info.  Integrations of this type are much more complex than Lucy trying to convince viewers that Vitameatavegamin was “tasty too.”

Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham of USA’s “Covert Affairs” | Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network

TVs Second Screen has networks scrambling

Like the t.v. signals of just a few years gone by that were scrambled and needed the proper cable box code and connection to be viewed, network execs are scrambling to develop “the next best thing” to entice viewers.  The internet and social media have irrevocably, changed the viewing experience of traditional TV (www.adweek, May, 2012).  NBC Universal recognize that the  “rules of engagement” have changed and is planning now for its second symposium on social TV slated for five months from now.  Their goal: to specifically identify how brands can benefit from  and be integrated into social TV.  Networks are beginning to realize that it is about engagement and devoted fans are their most important marketing assets.


AdWeek.  (2012).  ”USA to Launch 6 “Social TV’ Tie-ins Aimed at Superfans”.  Retrieved June 22, 2012 from:

AdWeek.  (2012).  ”PwC Outlook: TV’s Growth Prospects Look Strong.”  Retrieved June 22, 2012 from:

AdWeek.  (2012).  ”NBCU Gathers Who’s Who in Social TV.”  Retrieved June 22, 2012 from

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5 Responses to Advertisers: Join The “Happy, Peppy People” in Social TV

  1. Jesus Torres says:

    Good post on a very fluid topic. Indeed, television is changing and it is changing in concert with the increase in mobile and fixed broadband speeds and better mobile devices that can leverage these speeds. We’ve become a very mobile centric culture where sitting in front of the TV as a family is not always the norm. Teens nowadays spend hours on YouTube watching amateur and tv/movie clips often on a laptop or cell phone. For adults, they like to take their TV with them. Sort of like Skype, where you can call from anywhere using your account, people want to take their Netflix account when they travel or visit family. Another thing is that people increasingly are getting frustrated with the endless array of channels they get with their cable packages. It becomes a chore to channel surf. Habits are changing people want to pick and choose what they want to watch, when they want. This is where Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon On Demand have found a niche.

    How does this bode for advertisers? They have to follow where the eyeballs go. Now you will notice a 30 second commercial before clicking on a video link on most websites. I don’t subscribe to Netflix, so I don’t know how advertisements are structured, but I am sure it is part of the service’s revenue model.

    Interesting post. Thanks.

    • Xiomara Moncada says:

      Hi Lauren,
      Very interesting post. You are so right television has come a long way from Lucy and her advertising. It is amazing how networks are now using social media to advertise brands and make money of devoted fans. Your post has made me look at Covert Affairs in a different light as well as Suits. I watch both of these shows and sure enough social media plays a big role when these shows are on air. Unlike other viewers, I always record the shows since I work and study, so I watch them when I have time but I have noticed how much advertising is done with Facebook and Twitter. If I were to watch them at the time they air, I would be one of the viewers joining in on the games. Thank you for your post!!

  2. Shane Collins says:


    This is definitely a trend that is reinventing broadcast marketing. Television still provides the reach advertisers look for, but the main problem is that broadcast is so segmented now that it becomes both expensive and risky. Where do advertisers spend their money to reach the audience? Can they afford to buy time on two/three/four networks that attract their target audience? One of the answers to this is to engage consumers on multiple channels. Utilizing social networks is a great leap for broadcast advertisers and the networks themselves. This continues viewer engagement online, allowing audiences to stay connected with content long after their favorite show airs.

    • Lauren Y. Walker says:

      Hi Jesus and Xio,
      Thanks to you both for responding to my post. Jesus, you are absolutely correct in your assessment of mobile TV and the increased use of mobile technology permeating our lives. I recently attended a social media conference and speaker after speaker said, if when you are developing marketing with social media, you don’t consider its use on a mobile device…don’t even bother.

      This kind of speaks to the point you mentioned Xio not being able to watch shows when they air, due to other life commitments. I haven’t watched t.v. AT ALL, since I started school, but reading the Adweek articles had me so intrigued with the digital integration component, that I am going to record an episode just to see what I am missing and if I like it, I am just might have to consider a phone with a bigger screen, just to see these programs and other such Social TV fare just to stay in the loop. Yep, I am a geek, but after reading these articles, I felt like, wow…I am missing out…I wanna be part of the “social TV” clique. 🙂

  3. Lauren Y. Walker says:

    Shane, hi there,
    You bring up a good point about the ad pricing being cost prohibitive for advertisers. a 30 second buy is outrageous. No longer can advertisers spend premium dollar for just eyeballs watching passively. It is the equivalent to a “thumbs up” like on FB…that’s lovely, but really, what does that get ya….not much. ENGAGEMENT, as we all have noted are key. Engagement gets people talking to others which in turn will bring others to the fold out of curiosity, if nothing else. It is like the old shampoo commercial in the 70s, that said, they told two friends and so on and so on….In the absence of a cool, 30+ year memorable slogan, engagement and out the box presentations are key to garner attention that the advertisers seek.