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Think BR: What does Generation Social want from TV?

What are the best steps brands can take to reach Generation Social, asks Luke Hammersley, head of television, Gutenberg Networks.

Luke Hammersley, head of television, Gutenberg Networks

Luke Hammersley, head of television, Gutenberg Networks

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So TV is changing - every recent article, blog and interview supports the view that we are in the midst of a massive digital revolution.

Cisco says that by 2013, 90% of IP data will be video and by 2016 two thirds of that will be accessed via mobile devices - alongside sales figures of some 37m iPhones and 15m iPads in Q4 2011, that’s 52m video enabled devices in three months, from Apple alone.

It’s clear then that technology is enabling audiences to access video content everywhere but what does it mean for brands using traditional TV?

The interplay between screens around TV shows becomes critical as brands look to reach audiences. Social activation provides great opportunities to align with popular events and shows.

Following social trends allows brands to be increasingly agile, identifying and disrupting large audiences to get messages seen and heard.

However, those who so many brands are trying to reach - Generation Social (12-32 demographic) - are apparently not playing ball. They want more than just ads.

Speaking in Cannes recently, René Rechtman, head of AOL Advertising International, referenced Upstream research in the US showing that 66% of this group reject digital advertising, and a third of them ‘hate’ the brands targeting them with "static, stupid digital ads"

Given this group accounts for some $900bn of consumer spend in the US alone, it deserves consideration.

This group says it wants content that is high quality, shareable, useful and adds value to the user. Rechtman calls it a "wake up call for the whole industry: brands, advertising agencies, media agencies and other publishers".

Generation Social is innately that, social: taking steer and influence from friends, family and peers before believing brands.

Content and positive brand association is based on its ‘value’ to entertain or inform. It’s the exciting challenge for those of us developing such content, but it’s not new, it’s an old fashioned trade: I’ll give you something you want - interesting content - if you give me something I want - your attention.

Every brand embraces video as a vehicle, but the difficult task given this feedback is deciding what type and mix of content they should create.

It also raises questions about how brave they will be in reducing traditional production and media spend to meet the demands of Generation Social by generating richer, in-depth video content they seek out and share rather than get hit by

As devices and broadcast mediums converge, TV is separating into two areas: linear TV will thrive around event based broadcasting where audience desire for real-time action is increasing, while on-demand technology will become the go-to platform for recorded content, watched when and where the viewer chooses.

Interestingly Channel 4 recently launched a hybrid of these two mediums though 4Seven, a channel that aggregates the most popular content from the last seven days and creates a linear schedule from them - like a TV playlist someone has made for you. 

Successful or not, it is an interesting moment in the evolution of scheduled TV, but what appears not to change is the type of advertising opportunity they are selling around it - the traditional ad break.

How can we help brands reach Generation Social then? The challenge is to create a mix of content that can work across the varied platforms, and create new platforms - just as Virgin Media have done with TiVo, which houses extended brand content alongside traditional TV content to great effect - dwell times for HTCs Freefall campaign of up to 16 minutes according to Stuart Flint, sales director at Virgin Media.

We ask potential customers for more these days and to convince people to trade their time and privacy we need to offer a return trade that’s fair, or they will reject us and go elsewhere.

It’s a challenge all creatives, producers and directors in the TV advertising space should relish - we all secretly want to be film makers, documentary makers, sports journalists or political commentators anyway don’t we?

Luke Hammersley, head of television, Gutenberg Networks

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