Streaming TV

Keeping Butts In Their Seats

Marketers have a new challenge as streaming TV becomes more popular and as cord cutters break away from surfing guide channel menus. Keeping consumers engaged while surfing options of what to watch next has become the mighty new challenge advertisers and artificial intelligence developers face with updating app services like Hulu and Amazon Prime. Not only are audiences fragmented between mediums, but now marketers must keep up with a multi-tasking population not necessarily “zoning out” in front of the television set.

According to a 1Q19 Nielsen Total Audience report studying TV viewership habits – “Nearly a quarter (21%) say that if they can’t decide what to watch, they simply go do something else. 58% say that default to their favorite channels, and 44% scan through channels. Only a third say that they browse their SVOD content menus, and just 24% watch recommendations from a service’s guide or menu”. 

Streaming TV content has altered viewing habits by removing the traditional program channel guide cable services provide. Viewers are now forced to search apps for what they are in the mood to watch through different means or they must know exactly what they intend to watch when plopping down on the couch. When viewers can’t find something to catch their mood, they are abandoning the medium entirely and not keeping their butts in their seats.

Recommendation categories

Most streaming services are set up with an email account that creates a user profile. This allows companies to serve users email notifications regarding new content or relevant shows of interest based on past viewing habits. Many apps also have entire categories within the home menu citing ‘recommended shows’ based on a users’ history of shows watched. As some say, your email is your new social security number. It also links to reward accounts with stores you frequent. So, in essence your email can track you.

Some streaming services like Pluto, have a channel guide as their home screen, making it easier to transition for the traditional cable surfer to perusing the app. Streaming services will also continue growing new content, both in original shows and by adding to library choices, which should also improve engagement levels.

Where is the 21% going?

This is perhaps the toughest and most complex question. How can marketers figure out where the 21% of the TV viewership is going when they abandon the TV?

Are consumers asking Alexa something? Are they cleaning their house? Driving somewhere? Going to bed? Taking the dog for a walk? Some of these multi-tasking options marketers can reach, such as serving up commercials on smart speakers or out-of-home mediums. Other options will not be so easy. The trick is tracking real-time consumers. Location data is sold on consumers to advertisers and can give some insight as to where the TV viewer goes when leaving the couch. Take for example the Apple smartwatch.

Let’s say you sat down to watch Hulu, but went unsatisfied with show selection, so you go to Walmart instead. Walmart has beacon technology in their stores, that automatically connects to your smartphone GPS or smartwatch. Advertisers can utilize this technology and serve a coupon right to your phone or watch.

Beacons create a form of micro-communication between retailers and shoppers via mobile apps. 

Retailers who nail this strategy on the Apple Watch will be able to significantly improve customer engagement and generate new types of micro-messaging campaigns. 

For the first time, shoppers will not need to have their smartphones out to see location-based notifications since they will be sent directly to their wrists”. 

As marketers and app developers continue their quest in understanding where TV viewers are physically, how to better engage viewership, and track consumers physically, they may be able to not only keep more butts in the seats but also interact with people not watching TV.