Archive for January, 2013

Happy New Year from the team at ACB!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

As we begin 2013 the team at ACB can look back over a busy and productive year of research. Along with a series of high-profile appearances at a number of industry events, including, most recently, the TV Of Tomorrow New York Intensive on December 10th, and the Oliver & Ohlbaum senior executive briefing event on December 4th, ACB has also completed capture for the main part of the sixth phase of the 1-3-9 Media Lab.

The emergent insights from the 1-3-9 Longitudinal Media Lab can be considered in light of the discussions that were taking place at these recent industry events. Below we have responded to key questions that were raised at the events.

1. There is a need for a holistic approach to media measurement

While measurement metrics are continually improving, there is a general feeling of dissatisfaction within the industry around the value that can be gained from research that relies entirely on self-reported behaviour, or that cannot reveal how all devices are used together. At the TVOT New York Intensive, panellists at the ‘Measuring the Multiplatform viewer – Challenges and Solutions’ session criticised the industry and admitted it needed to face up to a major problem, suggesting that a bolder and more active approach to audience measurement was required.

The unique methodology employed by ACB ensures that its research is based on actual behaviour observed from footage captured on discreet cameras while participants are in their natural context, at home. This avoids self-reporting biases which may exaggerate or distort behaviour around TV and other devices. Additionally, ACB has endeavoured to capture from all screens that participants can access since the first phase of the 1-3-9 Media Lab. Recently, this has involved the introduction of new methods of capture to provide ACB’s researchers with a feed from mobile devices such as the Microsoft Surface and the latest Apple devices. In the current phase of the lab, all participants in the 1-3-9 sample have been using mobile devices, and ACB has been able to observe this behaviour every step of the way.

For these reasons, the results from the 1-3-9 Media Lab can be considered truly holistic, overcoming wherever possible the pitfalls that can often beset media measurement metrics. In Phase 6, the lab has provided unique insights into the user journey across devices, revealing, for example, when TV content prompts a viewer to follow up with a mobile device. Not only was such behaviour common during the high-urgency TV event of the Olympics – Autumn TV content has been eliciting interactivity, too, especially with the proliferation of apps such as Shazam and Zeebox on our participants’ mobile devices, that allow easy access to additional information.

This year, ACB’s Mobile Actual Behaviour Ethnographic Lab (MABEL) will deliver a quant perspective on a wider sample of up to 200 participants to provide insights into new behaviour on smart phones and tablets, to complement existing research into TV audience behaviour. At the Oliver & Ohlbaum event, Guy Phillipson, CEO of the IAB, asked the panel whether they felt that the tablet or the mobile was king when it came to multiple screen use. In response, research was cited that referred to how comfortable the devices were to use and how easily the device fitted into the user’s hand. However, ACB would assert that there will be no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to multi-screen behaviour in front of the TV. That is why it is of paramount importance that the approach is holistic – taking into consideration all devices – when assessing future audience behaviour.

2. What effect is multi-screening having on the way audiences consume TV content?

At the Oliver & Ohlbaum event, Tess Alps, chief executive of Thinkbox, described recent research by Decipher that had revealed how having access to additional screens in front of the TV actually kept viewers in the TV area for longer. This implies that the experience of multi-screening adds value to the traditional experience of TV consumption. ACB can support this insight – as early as Phase 2 (2008) ACB found similar results. In this phase, ACB added more laptops to the sample so that all participants would have access to a second screen. Having this option enabled participants to access private content in the social space – often for the first time. For example, teenagers who were uninterested in their parents’ viewing choices on the main TV used the laptop to view their personal content choices on demand, sometimes using headphones, so that they could remain in the social space with their family.

The increasing presence of mobile devices provides more ways for families to compromise and access their preferred content, in the social viewing area, in front of the TV. Far from taking viewers away from the main TV, multiple screens are actually adding value to what might otherwise be a less enjoyable experience, and enabling households to preserve the all-important social aspect of TV consumption.

The gaming industry in particular is keen to foster second screen behaviour during gaming sessions, and this has been demonstrated with the recent introduction of Xbox Smart Glass and the Wii U. At the TVOT New York Intensive, Mark Budash and Gerard Kunkel of Xbox described, during their demonstration of Smart Glass, how their vision is to develop the user habit of reaching for the tablet or smart phone to control their gaming device. For Xbox, this habit represents an opportunity to reach the audience in a new way, with complementary content designed for the second screen, synchronised with the main screen content, during gaming, film and music consumption on the console.

ACB have been studying gaming behaviour throughout the phases of the 1-3-9 Media Lab. The introduction of Xbox Kinect in Phase 5 brought about an unprecedented enthusiasm for gaming even in participants who had never before shown any interest. Now, in Phase 6, the focus will be on the appetite observed in participants during gaming and VoD viewing on their gaming devices for complementary content on second screens. There is a growing focus on the way multiple screens will influence how viewers consume TV content, whether that primary screen is being used for viewing, gaming, or for another activity, and ACB’s results will provide a reliable indication of future behaviour.

3. How can Zeebox and other interactive second screen apps drive behaviour that can be monetised and how will Tcommerce be integrated into future behaviour?

A discussion at the TVOT New York Intensive, led by experienced innovator and Zeebox founder Anthony Rose, focussed on how the continuing success of interactive second screen apps can create an environment of unprecedented engagement, where purchasing behaviour can be driven. Elsewhere, commentators envisaged ideal future scenarios where purchasing behaviour can be facilitated by the industry from the moment the customer experiences an advert, through to the purchase of the product. This scenario illustrates how by ensuring all devices function together seamlessly, the consumer experience is not only improved, but purchasing behaviour may actually be actively encouraged. This issue was also raised at the Oliver & Ohlbaum briefing, with attendees keen to understand the implications of current appetites for interactive transactions on Smart TVs.

As previously discussed, many second screen apps are built on assumptions about the future viewer that are not yet entirely reliable. For example, during the 2012 US Super Bowl, Coca Cola built an app on the assumption that 60% of viewers would be using a second screen during the event. While their gamble paid off, not least from a PR perspective, there is an etiquette around TV viewing, and apps need to be developed with this in mind, binding the viewers’ interest to the TV, rather than creating any form of friction that may lead them to switch off or over on the main set.

ACB’s observations from Phase 5 and 6 around how customers use apps on both the Smart TV and on mobile devices have shown that the appetite for interactivity is fragile. Potential customers can be permanently deterred if the app disrupts the TV viewing experience, especially during high urgency viewing with content such as live sports. The experience needs to be seamless and immediately beneficial to the customer if it is to stand any chance of routine adoption.

Throughout Phase 6, researchers have been closely monitoring the situations where participants are driven to use an app to make a transaction. The appetite exists – ACB has observed participants using apps like Shazam to find out about songs that they want to buy. The results from Phase 6 will discuss how ACB expects participants to respond to the Tcommerce and interactive advertising of the future.

4. Highly produced broadcasting vs. user-generated content on the TV

With the drive for increased interactivity and involvement with TV content, will the TV of the future be more of a user-generated affair? With innovative new products like Spreecast (where viewers can chat with the stars and producers of their favourite shows), and Theatrics (where fans film their own storylines to be incorporated into their favourite online shows), the debate focused on how this new direction for the industry presents a challenge to broadcasters who may not be ready to relinquish total control over their content output.

With apps like YouTube already bringing user generated content to our participants Smart TVs, ACB can observe the current appetite for user-generated content on their main screen. We have already noted in Phase 5 and the Olympics study, which formed the initial part of Phase 6, how participants prioritise personalised content, including home videos and pictures, over any other type of content viewing on their main TVs. ACB will also observe how the use of social networking sites to directly interact with celebrities might be an accurate measure of the future appetite for a more immersive and inclusive TV environment.

5. Set-top boxes vs. Smart TVs

Much discussion has centred on the rivalry between set-top boxes and smart TVs in the delivery of video on demand content to the main screen. However, it was noted at the TV of Tomorrow New York Intensive that while Smart TVs are currently in only 1 in 10 broadband-enabled homes, ownership is highly correlated with pay TV homes, with around half of smart TV owners also having Sky. At the Oliver & Ohlbaum event, research presented suggested that PVRs could reach a penetration rate of 100% as soon as 2016. What then will be the implications for Smart TVs, and more broadly, TV advertising, if all viewers have the ability to time shift and fast-forward through adverts?

The future-focused 1-3-9 sample contains homes with both smart TVs and pay TV packages, as well as homes with the latest set-top boxes including YouView. This enables ACB to draw a comparison between the behaviour around TV VoD content between these two types of household. Will having access to a broader range of VoD content in the Smart TV households drive a corresponding increase in consumption? And which source will be higher in the participants’ hierarchy of choice?

Related to this was an interest expressed at the Oliver & Ohlbaum event in the impact that Ultraviolet might have on movie consumption from Pay TV sources. A lack of clarity was evident at this event around the capabilities of the Ultraviolet product, with Jeremy Michaels, Oliver & Ohlbaum consultant, explaining that the service offered a ‘digital locker’ in which users could store their movie collection. This year, ACB will be analysing the impact of Ultraviolet as the product becomes more widely accessible (all Blu-ray discs are due to be Ultraviolet enabled in early 2013). As well as observing how having access to an online movie collection via any device might impact consumption of movies through Pay TV packages, ACB will also ascertain customer perceptions of the product, analysing how effective Ultraviolet’s marketing strategies may be. It is our prediction that the service may be more readily adopted if the brand’s distinctiveness is emphasised, alongside the emotional need that the product fulfils.