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Do Smart TVs Mean Smarter Advertising?

Grab a cigar, the next generation of TV ads are being born. They are a spitting image of their parents, but they've evolved to become interactive, more engaging, and more digital. But how do they work?

Grab a cigar, the next generation of TV ads are being born. They are a spitting image of their parents, but they've evolved to become interactive, more engaging, and more digital. But how do they work?

Imagine I'm watching a program with my wife. It goes to the break and we see an ad for the new Hunger Games movie. But this 30 second spot isn't just a regular commercial. Hovering in one corner is the beacon of newness. A call to action - use your remote to get more info about the movie.

Do I grab the remote and interact? You bet your Mockingjay I'm going to interact! There's photo galleries, character bios, movie synopses. These new interactive ads could even offer up location-based messages that are customised just for me. For example, show times at my local cinema with the option to buy tickets with a coupon sent to my smartphone.

On Demand TV generation

As consumers we will find these added opportunities attractive because everyone wants personalisation. In the digitally connected age we expect relevance. We want experiences. We want entertainment. We are the on demand generation, the new television audience.

Whatever channel we watching, whether live, time-shifted or via video on demand, the ad will be delivered to the smart TV. The TV will recognise the TV advert, match up the spot with coordinating content, with the ability to explore the ad further.

We can't define TV as just our television set. We are watching more and more content on mobile devices. eMarketer estimates that we will spend over 5 hours with digital media today and only 4 ½ hours watching TV. So is TV dying? Are we multitasking between screens more? Or are we looking for more ways to connect with content regardless of the screen?

To understand the next generation of TV adverts, let's look at the next generation of consumers, particularly kids who have a TV in their room. That used to be the ultimate in teenage technological sophistication during my 90s teen years. In just 5 years only 52% of British kids have a TV set in their room versus 69% in 2007. Don't worry these kids are still watching "TV" they just now all have iMacs, iPads, and iPhones to deliver their video content.

Advertisers on board

For marketers these changes aren't a problem. TV reach is amplified by offering a more far-reaching opportunity for engagement. And best of all the interactive ads used are HTML5, much like what they are already are running online and on mobile devices. They are already going to produce a 15 or 30 second ad and so will welcome opportunity to have their audience engage with the ad and dive in deeper. Especially when they are able to leverage your existing creative, by reimagining it into another screen.

Marketers are getting on board with the idea of more customised ads and according to Econsultancy over a third of digital marketers have pushed personalisation to the top of their 2013 priorities. Interactivity in TV advertising is the next phase in that personalisation.

Smart TV's also provide a new opportunity for advertisers to receive immediate feedback to continuously improve the advertising to be more relevant, compelling and convincing. Online ads have long had that two way feedback, and now some of that is rubbing off onto TV.

So, when will this change happen? The technology is already falling into place. Already there are millions households with smart TVs today. By 2017, nearly a half billion connected smart TVs will be in the homes of the 7.4 billion people on earth. That's a lot of potential.

Given the progress, what's holding this back? Sure, there needs to be more connected TVs, more people actually connecting these TVs, improved multiscreen ad tech to help marketers deliver ads to consumers, and the stars are starting to align on these...but what needs to happen most is marketers need to embrace this change, and create the unique interlinked ad experiences that customers will get excited over and actually want to interact with.

This is all about creative thinking, understanding what people want and delivering it in a way that's new and exciting. Yes, this is a great opportunity for the brands and marketers but the efforts of advertising are worth watching as they'll also be the ones to pioneer a new age of interactivity and communications by bringing the biggest screen in the house into play with all our other digital devices.