Guest Post by: Ed Thompson

Social TV, or Connected TV as it’s also known, will be an exciting area for marketers in the future as the opportunity for integrating the Internet and social networks offers a whole new dimension to the TV experience.

But while large numbers of consumers are already using social channels at the same time as viewing TV broadcasts, there are still several challenges for connected TV, as discussed at a recent Econsultancy round-table event:

1. Consumer adoption

Despite a prediction that 28 million connected TVs will have saturated the UK by 2014, the transition to connected TV will have its difficulties. One concern is that after adopting HD and 3D TV there will be confusion and reluctance from consumers to upgrade their TVs yet again.

However, connected TV is already being adopted – DisplaySearch has reported  that nearly 20% of all TVs shipped in 2010 included some capability. This figure is due to rise  from 40 million units worldwide in 2010 to an estimated 123 million by 2014.

2. Regulation, privacy and security concerns

With connected TV, regulation will not be as simple, and we imagine that it will be some time before the jurisdiction of connected TV and related apps will be clear. Currently with dual screen viewing the second screen does not fall under OfCom regulation and we expect there to be several test cases before things are truly tightened up.

Consumers may also have issues about their privacy, and of course the new channel might have security issues that people will need to bear in mind to stay safe.

3. Changing our TV habits

TV viewing is already a social activity, but connected TV will take the once-passive activity to a new level of active involvement. A considerable amount of people are already using social channels while viewing TV, and a connected TV will be able to provide suggestions and playlists on the basis of your likes and recommendations from your social networks. Opportunities for viewers to interact directly with broadcasts and other viewers will greatly expand the involvement and experience of watching TV – in fact, “watching TV” may become an antiquated expression in itself!

The Future

We are still yet to see exactly what connected TV will be able to do, but with the introduction of YouView next year and must-see events such as the Olympics taking place, there will be plenty of opportunity to experiment and trial new techniques for communication with your audience using both social channels and television.

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