Sleeping Giants: Digital Awakens TV and Media


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Sleeping Giants: Digital Awakens TV and Media

Television has looked pretty much the same since its inception in the early 40s, give or take a few rabbit ears and a hundred pounds. But, the revolution has already begun. Recently Razorfish has been doing some significant research on the importance television plays in our lives, and what we think the fundamental shift that is taking place in TV and media, in general, will mean for advertising and marketers. As a digital agency, you might expect us to forecast the death of TV (and :30 spots), but you'd be wrong. We think TV's DNA will be alive and well, you just might not recognize it from how it looks today, and this digital impact will have major implications, not just for TV, but for media as a whole: technology, content development, distribution, advertising and brands.

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  • As you know, I am from Razorfish. So you may be asking yourself, why is the guy from Razorfish talking about they Future of TV? Aren’t they a digital advertising company?You may think I am going to be like all the other industry pundits and claim that the 30 second spot is dead! Or maybe I’ll claim that TV is dead, viewership is down, and the box is no longer relevant to a younger generation. Or that I might drive that tired rubric that TV advertising can’t be measured like digital can be and therefore it isn’t as valuable.But actually I am not going to do that. I am here to tell you that TV is definitely here to stay and its future promises to be very exciting.
  • So welcome to the future of TV as Razorfish sees it….well actually what consumers are telling us what they WANT the future of TV to be. Our approach at Razorfish is almost always a consumer centric one. Our mission is to create experiences that build businesses and we do that by understanding consumers, their needs and behaviors. Razorfish is a full-service digital agency. We are one of the world’s largest interactive marketing & technology companies and part of the Publicis Groupe.
  • In a nutshell, I’m going to talk about the following three areas:1. The DNA of television. I want to give you a quick overview of the research we conducted and what we learned about people’s TV behaviors that aren’t going away.2. We used those learnings to create scenarios of what the future of TV will look like. We wanted to illustrate the consumer experience when you click the remote. Or more likely, say “TV ON.” The illustrations weren’t created based on what cool technology might be around. They are based on the real human needs we learned about through our research.3. Finally, our vision of TV has ramifications. Some will be positive, but some will be painful, especially for big businesses and some content creators. For the purpose of today, we’re going to stick with the consumer experiences and stay away from the legal implications of our vision.
  • Our initial brief was to find households willing to go without TV for a week, a full 7 days. What we found was that we couldn’t pay candidates enough to NOT watch any TV for a full 7 days. After some back and forth, we went down to 5 days, then 3 days – still not enough, it appeared that the magic number, the absolute maximum number of days a families would be willing to go without TV was 2 days!. That data point set the tone for the rest of the study. TV is here to stay, that was clear. Our goal for the research was to understand exactly what is it about TV that people love. We wanted to identify TVs DNA. We were looking for the genes that describe people’s behaviors with TV that weren’t going away. The building blocks of media….
  • The research project was comprised of 3 parts:The first was a deprivation study. We removed TV from a number of families’ households, studied their behaviors and how they filled in the time that was normally spent watching TV. It was a fascinating experiment and one you might want to try at home. Try and ban TV from your household for all of next week. See how long you can last!In the second piece of the research we held collaborative design sessions with teenagers, today’s youth -- digital natives. Through prototypes and storyboards they provided us with lots of interesting insights about what they wanted from TV in the future.For the third research piece we interviewed adults who have found ways to live without traditional cable or network TV. Adults who use Netflix, YouTube streamed on the AppleTV, xBox or who accessed Slingbox on business trips. These were our “bleeding edgers” who gave us insight into adoption trends.
  • So first, we took TV away from normal families for 2 days. Sometimes, to learn about something, it is better to take something away. What’s missing then becomes obvious.So here is what happens when you take away the television. Look at the expressions of delight in this photo. (This is all US based research. The following photos were taken by families themselves or our enthnographers.)
  • We observed the families during the time they gave up TV, and learned just how important TV is to a family’s everyday life. Some families took pictures of the joyful moment that their TV was restored. Here on the left, you have no TV. On the right, TV. Clearly TV isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • In the second study we conducted some collaborative design sessions with youth. These are digital natives, people who have less of a sense of a world without the internet, and they provided lots of interesting insights about what they might like in the future.
  • What we learned:They don’t know or care about the infrastructure that content comes to them through. Facebook has content blended with community. Video is available on PC, iPod, Mobile phone and TV box. With fewer firmly engrained ideas about what TV is today, their brainstorm was extremely free. It was multi-channel, personalized, yet extremely social.They built prototypes with paper, cardboard, pens and crayons. Without using words, their work points to convergence, social connectivity, links to gaming and other devices, and snackable content chunks intermixed with longer form programming. They made smiley and frowning faces out of playdoh. They wanted TV to serve them content based on their mood – to make them laugh when they were sad, or educate when they wanted to be intrigued. They imagined their own content living comfortably side-by-side with shows. AND they wanted to be in the programs themselves. They wanted to control TV with their words and their movements.
  • We talked to adults who have found ways to work around traditional cable. We don’t have photos of these, but the scenarios included:One woman inviting her girlfriends over, usually on Thursdays, where they took turns VJ’ing YouTube videos on the Apple TV she had hooked up in her living room. Instead of watching a movie, they watched lots of little ones, some made by people they know, others clips from shows, others viral videos sent by friends. Another man told us that once on a business trip, which involved visiting Disneyland, he streamed the NBA finals from his Slingbox at home, to his mobile phone, and watched the games while he did various things around the park, including being on a rollercoaster. A mom of a two year old sits at the computer with her daughter in her lap. They watch YouTube together. The daughter demands to hear a particular song, such as “Hot Potato” by the Wriggles, and when that’s finished, she requests another clip, which the mom then finds and plays. If YouTube had voice recognition, a two year old in Connecticut could easily watch TV on demand.
  • So after all this research we identified nine genes in the DNA of TV that we think are immutable. Because the genes are mapped to core behavioral needs people have, we believe they will not change no matter what cool new technology comes along. The DNA is going to stay the same.Passivity - Vegging out is now and will always be a primary need that TV serves. Conversation – TV connects us to the shared “now,” which gives us something to talk about around the…Water Cooler Currency - We can easily and instantly tap into the collective conversation, whether it be news, pop culture, and what’s going on. Social – An excuse to be together, gathered around a screen for a shared entertainment experienceStimulation/education - It’s not just about vegging out; people learn things from TV. From children with Sesame Street to adults learning how aircraft carriers get built to learning about the great Pacific garbage patch, TV can get our synapses firing.Fantasy/escapism - TV also lets you live vicariously and enter worlds you don’t have access to in real life.Passion points - People can follow their passions on TV. Whether that be football, music, dance, the environment, etc.Participation - Not TV’s strongest gene today, but it does exist. We can vote by text or sing karaoke along with American Idol. It is a gene that shows huge promise.Consumerism - We keep up with products, styles and trends just by the shows and ads we see.We strongly believe these nine basic genes aren’t going to leave TV. We can’t just repurpose and redistribute video. We can’t just build a new widget and expect adoption. Whatever we do has to incorporate these genes and feed real people’s behavior.
  • The Internet is changing consumer expectations (as we saw with our digital natives). They expect their needs to be satisfied and the genes of TV to be amplified, remixed and reassembled to create spectacular new experiences. So let’s fast forward 5 years…..(or if the cable companies have their way 25 years!) and take a guess at what TV will look like by visualizing a number of possible scenarios.
  • We’re under no illusion that people will stop vegging out in front of the tube in the future. So our first scenario shows how the future TV actually serves the Couch Potato better by learning about him and serving things up serendipitously.Instead of a channel guide, or the TV simply blaring the last channel we were watching, we’re presented with an interface that serves whatever mode we’re in. Since we are in lazy mode, we say “Show me something I might like.” TV knows who’s watching (which I’ll get to more later), and knows we have enjoyed animal programming in the past, especially on Saturday afternoons. But we aren’t quite in the mood for this, so we swipe our hand and say “next.”
  • TV flips to a screen that is designed to give us ideas without us having to think too hard. At the top are suggestions based on our past viewing habits. We can also see what is most popular right now, based on the number of people watching it - the so-called “wisdom of the crowd” bubbling things up for the lazy. We can also see things that our friends have liked. This doesn’t mean that there will be another social network to sign up for on TV, simply that TV will connect us with the ones we already belong to. We will also be able to drill into content by topic, or even by our mood (shown at the bottom right of the screen). We should also be able to tell TV how much time we have to watch something and whether we want to laugh, cry or be intrigued.What is significant here is that the paradigm of numerically ordered channels, existing in a chronological stripe across the 24 hour day, has been eliminated. Channels are brands, content is surfed in a dozen new ways, not least of which is the ability to know what your friends like. And you don’t have to know something to record it. It just comes to you.
  • So back to our scenario. As a couch potato we choose one of the most popular videos. After watching the clip, TV suggests other things we might like. The big image is the full show of the clip we just watched, and along the right side are suggestions based on what people who like that show also like. We notice a car at the bottom of the screen…. It zooms across and reveals that we can start configuring our own model or schedule a test drive. We can even imagine the car we configured appearing in our next show, in the color we picked (BLACK), with the wheel rims (HIGH PERFORMANCE), etc.A simple example, but now we have user-generated content (or advertiser-generated content) available in TV programming.
  • While the Couch Potato scenario satisfies several of TV’s 9 genes, it is still very much a passive, solo experience. If consumers’ expectations are more web-based, then it stands to reason that the social gene needs to become more dominant. This scenario is inspired by all the young people we saw who are already merging content and conversation online – technology is the only thing preventing them from doing the same thing with TV.Sitting down in front of our TV, it recognizes our face and selects our profile so we can watch it. We can see that 14 of our friends are currently watching TV. These are friends across a number of social networks. So let’s see what they’re watching in case there is something good we might be missing.
  • Our friends are watching a variety of programming from a variety of sources, including shows from networks and content from the web. At the top right we see our High School YouTube channel, where everyone has uploaded videos of school sporting and social events.
  • Right now, we are watching the Real World Rio. If we choose to, we can video chat with our friends watching the same show. The Social Butterfly scenario not only amplifies the social gene, but also includes the currency and participation genes.
  • When we’re done with the Real World, we go to our Friend TV. This is a live feed of all the things our friends have hit the “heart” button on their TV, or posted on Facebook, Twitter, or all the other services whose names we can’t even imagine yet. We see that we have seven new clips today, the first three of which are showing on the left hand side. On the top right there is an option to simply combine today’s clips and watch them as a show. Think of it as a deconstructed Best Week Ever, built by our friends and dynamically constructed for us daily.
  • Just as some people gain massive followings on blogs, Twitter, and the like, on TV some people will have followings so large we will call them channels. They won’t have 24 hours of programming a day, but we will be able to subscribe to the channels we like and check in with them from time to time. Because of this, individual people will become advertising vehicles.
  • Another key component to keep in mind is that all the scenarios you’ve seen so far, and those that are about to come, are portable. Interestingly this illustration was created before Apple announced the iPad, which will help accelerate the future of TV.TV will be in the cloud, and we will be able to pull it down wherever we are. Whether that’s on a netbook, iPad, mobile phone, screen on the back of an airplane seat, or from a hotel room TV– it will be available, where you left off, what you saved, showing you what your friends are doing!
  • The third scenario will allow marketers new ways to engage audiences. It won’t be the interruptive ad experience we are used to today, but rather more engaging ones that adds to the viewing experience. No doubt we will still have 30 second spots, just fewer of them. When we watch the Oscars of the near-future we might see the option to add apps to the show. Sponsored apps will, in return for embedding content in the program, let us skip the commercial breaks and get backstage raw video. The brand is then embedded in the show, offering features like polls and quizzes, the results of which we can see in real time right on TV.
  • We get valuable content (like how to get this makeup look!) complete with e-commerce links included as part of the show. And the brand gets visibility, without interrupting the viewing experience.
  • TV apps will of course be linked to our social graphs, the content will be atomized again back out to our friends, who have a chance to learn about it even if they didn’t watch the show.Our Culture Vulture scenario is now increasing the volume of the genes passion, participation and consumerism.
  • The last scenario is based on one of the most die-hard and active TV types there is: The Fan.We take in the day’s sports news, and at the bottom of the screen we see a ticker. But the ticker isn’t from ESPN. The show is linked to our fantasy baseball team, and we are getting stats only on the players on our team.
  • We have the option to watch highlight clips for the players on OUR team. We can also see if there is action around the league we want to know more about.
  • We will be able to send (or speak) a note to someone else in our fantasy league, along with one of our video highlight clips. The whole thing is sponsored – in this case it is powered by Red Bull.
  • Or we could be watching our team live when the other team brings in a knuckleball pitcher for relief. Instead of sitting through ads while the new pitcher warms up, a game experience is offered up that gives us the chance to try to hit a knuckleball so we can see just how hard it is. Either built into the TV itself, or into a gaming console we have in our living room, TV senses our movement (even without a controller), and we play a game right there. We could spend 15 seconds or 15 minutes playing with friends, and then go back to the game that paused itself to wait for us to finish.This fan behavior doesn’t just extend to sports. Imagine people across the country playing a console game like Rock Band for a chance to get into a reality show.With the Fan scenario, we are really activating the social, stimulation, fantasy, passion, participation genes
  • Technology isn’t the limiting factor, business and existing mental models are. The technology to enable these scenarios is already out there. We already have streaming TV independent of channel and time of day, and this is only proliferating - Hulu started it all, but now we have NetFlix, xBox, Playstation, and YouTube. And we have services like AppleTV and Boxee that scrape the web for content, assemble it in one interface and allow us to compile it in new ways. And as we saw with the Obama inauguration, we are already seeing social networks integrated into live programming.So while the above examples show that this technology already exists, it currently only exists through the PC. The PC is acting as the middle man between the consumer and the TV experiences they want to have.
  • So here’s hoping that in 5 years time our vision for the “Future of TV” becomes the destination we arrive at and the business and legal implications of cable operators don’t slow us down!With that said, here are a few implications content creators and marketers will need to understand.
  • Paid media will not go away, but there will be less of it, and it will be aimed at smaller audiences. The social dynamics of the web will come to TV, meaning that content and advertising will need to be charismatic enough for people to bubble it up for themselves.
  • I promised I wouldn’t say the :30 is going to die, and I don’t think it will. Even if the door slowly starts to close in on it, lots of other, albeit smaller doors, will open. There will be 2 second spots, 5 second spots, and even 15 minute spots that viewers will be able to pull into their viewing experience when they feel like taking a tour of an entire car. It isn’t the end of anything, just the beginning of even more creative opportunities.
  • It will still be about the consumer demographic (age brackets 25-49, HHI of 55k+) but it will also be about ‘we’re talking to Jen right now.’ Online data will blend with offline data. There will be ways of targeting ads borrowed from online, like behavioral targeting. And it means that media planners will have to retain their expertise of today, along with the art of combining quantitative data and consumer insight to find new ways to reach people.
  • People will be channels. This new type of TV will create a new genre of careers built purely based on aesthetics and popularity. This will put downward revenue pressure on the traditional channels. People will seek sponsorships, and brands will try to get mentioned by them. Brands will go around the networks of today to sponsor content by up-and-comers who might not have made it in the traditional model. In many ways, advertisers will become direct patrons of content, and will have a responsibility to respect lines between editorial and commercial.
  • Everything will work across devices, but will also have to work across the increasingly permeable world of third party platforms people are using. Content will be need to be compatible with the all the things people are already doing – whether it starts on TV or simply ends up there.
  • The conversation cannot be controlled – we know this already from the web. But it will become increasingly true in the future.
  • Programming and brands will have to react to events, competitors and conversation in real time, eliminating the need to create media plans months in advance. Agile brand marketing, where ad creation and insertion will move closer to real time, will be necessary.
  • This is already happening, and is a large part of why the TV industry is scared. The bottom line is that brands will find ways to be in the content (but separate from it—think beyond product placement). We’ll build applications, provide added-value content, and sell, auction and give things away in real time.
  • TV and the web will connect brands and consumers in ways unforeseen today, both through content and with the interface people use to surf that content for themselves.
  • For more information about this presentation, please contact Katie Lamkin at or 312-696-5241.
  • Sleeping Giants: Digital Awakens TV and Media

    1. “End of the :30 spot!”<br />The Future of TV<br />“End of the :30 spot!”<br />“TV is dying!”<br />or is it??<br />
    2. Study 1: TV Deprivation <br />
    3. Study 2: Digital Natives<br />
    4. Study 3: Bleeding Edgers<br />
    5. TV’s 9 Genes<br />Passivity <br />Conversation <br />Water Cooler Currency <br />Social <br />Stimulation <br />Fantasy <br />Passion points <br />Participation <br />Consumerism<br />
    6. Scenario 1: The Couch Potato<br />What are you in the mood for?<br />
    7. Scenario 2: The Social Butterfly<br />
    8. TV will be portable<br />
    9. Scenario 3: The Culture Vulture<br />
    10. Scenario 4: The Fan<br />
    11. The future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed.- William Gibson<br />
    12. Thank you!<br />Domenic Venuto, <br />Managing Director, Head of <br />Media & Entertainment Practice<br />Andrew Pimentel, <br />Strategy Director<br />