How @itv2 could make more money from advertising from #towie using #socialdata


I was walking down South Woodford high street (in Essex) with my girlfriend and her friend.  Suddenly a girl came chasing after us. She wanted us to be extras in the latest episode of “The only way is Essex” (TOWIE). As it happened I couldn’t make it but I was a bit gutted!

I might lose all my credibility by admitting my guilty secret; that I watch TOWIE. It makes me cringe every time I watch it but I can’t help watching the next episode. There is something I find interesting about a cheesy almost-reality show set in your high street where the people go to some of the places you go (not the tanning shops I want to point out!)

The show is quite unique in some respects with something which is out of the control of the producers in that the audience pay a part on the story line. A lot of the people on the show in relationships talk about people on twitter who are not on the show telling them that their partners have been cheating on them.

Officially I am in the target audience for ITV 2 but I dont know if a I do not know if a 30 year old male (me) is in the target audience for the show.

ITV do a great job of encouraging social media activity with shows likes TOWIE, X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. I am sure they have goals based around viewer engagement and are probably doing quite well against those targets. I am sure it has helped contribute towards TOWIE achieving its status as ITV2’s second most popular show.

I have had a look around ITV’s advertising site  and see no signs that they are using social data in advertising. I wrote an article a few weeks back on Future of social media in television but I wanted to elaborate more upon how social data could be used to make ITV more money from advertising.

Although most people appreciate it is a necessary evil to support commercial television, there is a fundamental problem with advertising. It is disruptive and gets in the way of people doing what they want to i.e. watch their program.

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV, who together represent over 90 per cent of the commercial TV market in the UK through their owned and partner channels. They say the use of personal recorders increases the viewing figures for the people for people who couldn’t watch the show live. They published some research on the use of digital TV recorders. They put a positive spin on people fast forwarding the ads or “speed watching” them as they call it.  Although this is true I still feel that the way advertising is sold and consumed is not personal enough so people don’t want to watch it.

Imagine a world where the people who watched TV shows were just as interested in the advertisements as the content? Imagine if people would pause the adverts so that they didn’t miss them rather than disappearing to make a cup of tea during the break in corrie?

What I think is possible today
You do a great job of encouraging your viewers of your shows to get involved with conversation on social networks. I think you could take this to the next level by using the data that could find out about your audience from their engagement to personalise the ads. You could analyse the people who are actually watching the show to give more specific demographics for the audience. You could identify on a personal level who is actually watching. You could analyse what that person has been talking about in their tweets or Facebook statuses. What brands they like and what products they talk about. You could use this data to say to advertisers we know a specific number of people in our audience either like your brand or have talked about their products in the last 6 months. This data could be used to offer the advertisers a whole new level of targeting based upon more specifically who is watching and what they want to watch.

What could be done in the future
These ideas would require the way tv is viewed and broadcasted to be changed. I am sure there is some technical bod out there in your company or out there somewhere who could tell you how this could work.

Using the ideas suggested above you could understand who is watching and what they are interested in. If you knew who was watching and on what device you could serve them an advert specific to their own personal interests and preferences.

Imagine if the person watching had tweeted about their interest in a specific company or brand or liked the brand on Facebook. Given this preference information, if you showed them an advert for that brand, do you think they would be more interested or pay that add more attention?

Your turn

It costs £55,000 for a 30 second slot to advertise during TOWIE, do you think you could generate more money if you could target the audience better? If you could guarantee you could serve an advert for a brand where that individual or a vast majority showed an interest in that brand?

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