Gini Dietrich

What Social TV Means for Marketers

By: Gini Dietrich | August 16, 2012 | 

Last week, I was invited to speak on a panel at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communicators conference.

All in, there were about 1,000 journalism professors in Chicago for the annual conference, here to learn about new technologies, how business will affect their student’s future careers, and ethics in new media.

There were five of us on the panel, and we each had 10 minutes to describe how to figure out where your audiences are participating online and how to analyze their actions online and off. We heard about McDonald’s from BBDO, we heard about social media in a crisis from the American Red Cross, and we heard about social science from NORC at the University Chicago.

I was furiously taking notes!

Social TV

And then it was time to learn about Social TV from Mike Hess at Nielsen.

He began by describing the amount of time people still (STILL!) spend watching TV. Not on their phones. Not on tablets. Not streamed. Actual TV.

He said the average American watches 153.25 hours every month of television. That caught my attention! That’s more than five hours a day (and doesn’t include the time they’re watching on other devices). I rarely watch TV, but if I do, it’s half an hour max (it puts me to sleep). So the idea that people spend an average of five hours a day blows my mind.

Next time someone tells me they don’t have time to exercise, I’m going to ask them how much TV they watch. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

Social Media and TV

The most interesting parts of Mike’s presentation, though, was when he discussed how Nielsen is paying particular attention to the multi-taskers – the people who watch TV while participating on the social networks.

The top three places people visit while they’re watching TV are: Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo! Mail. In comparison, the top three shows they watch while also playing online are: A Hallmark movie, NCIS, and Judge Judy. Apparently you don’t have to fully focus if you watch those three shows!

As well, 88 percent of tablet and 86 percent of smartphone owners use their device while watching TV.

Nielsen is looking at the evolution of an increase in ratings, as they compare to an increase in online buzz.

For instance, if there is a nine percent increase in buzz volume for a particular show, pre-season, it equates to a one percent increase in ratings.

What Does this Mean for Marketers?

According to the Nielsen research, social media is growing furiously as a driver of television programming…and it’s being influenced by what our friends and family are Facebooking and tweeting about.

But, with hashtags and program sites offering more content outside of the shows, multi-taskers are starting to go to both the social networks and the show’s sites instead of sending email or getting distracted by other things online.

Think about that if you’re a television advertiser.

You can create content that drives people to YouTube, the show’s sites, and your own company sites in order to get more information, engage with other show viewers, and connect with the characters.

It’s a pretty interesting time, to be sure!


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About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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72 responses to “What Social TV Means for Marketers”

  1. ceslsu says:

    @ginidietrich Get on your bike! Going to see the AOD this morning!!

  2. damn it! I wanted to be first! I AM NOT HAPPY! :p 
    Thanks for sharing the slides Gini! 

  3. katskrieger says:

    Even for cord-cutters like myself, TV is still the place to be. The exciting piece for marketers is the content outside of shows for sure!  The ability to engage with 2nd screen while consumers are watching and even after is incredibly powerful. Shazam is doing some pretty cool things. Shameless plug – we spoke with them on a recent Brand Fast-Trackers podcast. 

    • lauraclick says:

       @katskrieger Totally agree. I love what Shazam is doing. Very cool indeed.

      • KenMueller says:

         @lauraclick @katskrieger The connection between TV and Twitter is also incredibly fascinating. It happen naturally, and I think Twitter should embrace it more, though not in the way they did with NBC during the Olympics.

        • katskrieger says:

           @KenMueller  @lauraclick Funny as always Ken.
          Yes on Twitter, but yes on other mediums/platforms too. I think the 2nd screen videos are even more fascinating.

    • ginidietrich says:

       @katskrieger The cord cutter question came up during this session and we represent a very small minority, but they’re definitely watching it because most of Gen Y (and what’s after them) don’t have TVs.

  4. lauraclick says:

    I don’t often watch TV in real time, but I always like seeing what shows do with hashtags. We really like the show, Suits, and they often ask questions at the bottom. If I were watching live, I could see how it would be fun to hop on and see what people are saying. It’s been a fun to see how shows are taking advantage of this.

    • KenMueller says:

       @lauraclick I think that might be the biggest challenge for marketers: fewer of us are watching in real time. Though, things like Netflix, On Demand, Hulu, etc offer different opportunities.

      • ginidietrich says:

         @KenMueller  @lauraclick I think that’s why they’re trying to push people to the show’s sites…then it doesn’t matter when you’re watching. And Get Glue does the same thing. You can log on and talk to anyone who happens to be watching at the same time you do.

        • KenMueller says:

           @ginidietrich  @lauraclick I’d be interested to see how things like Augmented Reality might work here. It really comes down to added value. I think that Foursquare might benefit as well, if they start with something along the lines of virtual checkins (which is what GetGlue is really all about). 

  5. This trend has fascinated me for a while, and it’s been fun to see how shows have been incorporating transmedia storytelling elements (the topic of my next guest post!) to deepen the viewing experience. AMC’s Walking Dead is a great example of how creating webisodes increases engagement and community around the show’s primary content by furthering the story. 
    Tom Webster shared some data during his Social Habit presentation at BlogWorld this year: More people knew about (but didn’t necessarily use) Twitter through traditional media mentions. That’s a fascinating thing to consider. 

    • ginidietrich says:

       @jasonkonopinski So they know about Twitter because of traditional TV, but don’t necessarily use it?

      •  @ginidietrich Aye, they’re hearing about these things called “Twitter” and “tweets” via traditional media (radio, TV, print) almost daily (at least among Americans 12+ in this newest iteration of Edison’s Social Habit research) while they may not be users.  
        Here’s a link to the SlideShare (slide 26 outlines what I’m talking about):

  6. I just want 24 back… Why did you leave, Jack? Why?

  7. KenMueller says:

    You should check out the recent studies and articles from Pew, on the “connected viewer” and more recently about the online experience of Olympic viewers. I’m currently writing a journal article on the former, from the perspective of shared moments, comparing it to the pre-social days and the defining “shared” moments of broadcast media from the Munich Crisis and WWII to the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam, and eventually the Challenger explosion, Gulf War and 9/11.
    From a pure entertainment side, I’ve seen some promise from the Get Glue community, as I check in to certain shows and am offered special deals. Granted, most of the deals don’t interest me in the least, but at least they are trying.

  8. Tinu says:

    I’m interested in this area too, particularly hashtags and tv. I watch my fair share of tv, but 5 hours a day is just amazing. If I have a long-term goal, it’s the first thing I quit, on all screens.

    But how/why are people watching both YouTube and television at the same time? Weird.

    • ginidietrich says:

       @Tinu Five. Hours. FIVE.
      Yeah…I don’t get the TV and YouTube thing at once either.

      • Tinu says:

         @ginidietrich I mean, say you watch prime time TV every night and one news show. That’s two hours of entertainment, plus let’s say you watch the hour long news. That’s still only three hours. Maybe they have it on as background noise? I do that. But actively watching? No wonder people think they can’t reach their goals and change their lives. They’re too busy watching other people. 

        • KenMueller says:

           @Tinu  @ginidietrich I barely watch any “real” television outside of some sports, depending on the season. Most of my watching is via Netflix. But some people just keep the TV on all day. That can really skew the numbers. When my dad was in a nursing home a few years ago, his roommate literally had the TV on 24 hours a day. Go figure. Drove my dad nuts.

  9. HowieG says:

    This post inspired me to blog about BUZZ today. The TV hours is not a surprise. I have known this….kind of forever. And I watch very little TV. Time spent online seems wrong. I can’t believe only 4 hrs per month online for anyone who has internet access. I bet it is more like 2hrs a day + work time.
    But the key is 153 hrs for TV and only 5 hrs for Facebook. And we wonder why major brands don’t take social media seriously still? When you have to reach 100’s of millions of people a week if you focus on facebook you might as well close your doors and sell all your assets while you can.
    Not being a fan of Nielsen who’s numbers are not accurate the way they measure this must scare them. Because if I am on twitter tweeting on my phone I am not watching the commercial on TV or even the show. The more people view two screens at once the more brands should be telling networks they want to pay less for TV spots. Which means less revenues to invest in programming or to pay nielsen. Hello 24/7 reality TV on every station + sports.

    • ginidietrich says:

       @HowieG It’s not online time all over…it’s online time watching television programs.

      • HowieG says:

         @ginidietrich that makes more sense. But I still bet it is low balled. Though I give nielsen credit because often their data over states vs under states more because of the nature of the way they measure.

        • ginidietrich says:

           @HowieG I was pretty impressed with the stats he was delivering last week. 

        • fairuse says:

           @HowieG  I am not a Nielsen fan but it is for better or worse the game. I have read about the mess in India where basically the incestuousness of the company’s “divisions” gave birth to meaningless numbers. But that does not happen CONUS, right.
          TV — My 3 HDTV-CableDVR units run 24hr a day and this iMac and the android phone never sleep except when I do. Since I yammer about TV I cannot call my liveTV-internetTV-mobileTV-social & antisocial habits normal. However, using my spouse as an example of average viewer — the numbers are close. 

  10. ElissaFreeman says:

    I remember reading a post from MItch Joel awhile back that talked about the ever-present influence of TV adversiting over social, so I have to say this doesn’t surprise me compelely – now, the shows you listed suprise me thought! Also, those shows? Without diving into the stats, you can guess at the demographic…and my guess is 35+ and none are prime time shows.  What does THAT say?

    • ginidietrich says:

       @ElissaFreeman None are prime time. So it could be people have their TVs on while they work or, heck, I don’t know. I can’t get over people watch five hours of TV a day. 

  11. Mark_Harai says:

    So much opportunity and room for growth. There’s an exciting future laying ahead of us when you look at all of the possibilities.
    Gini Got Vision!

  12. DavidMarkowitz says:

    What does it mean for TV advertisers?  With more and more of the TV audience using a second screen device while they’re watching (those 5 hrs every day), attention is increasingly being diverted to companion experiences, especially during commercial breaks.
    We’re finding very strong results when brands deliver digital ads on these platforms sync’d in real-time to their TV spots.  See a pizza ad during a show, get an offer or an ‘order now’ function right on your iPad.  There’s tremendous opportunity for brands to engage with viewers – that they’re already spending billions to speak to via commercials – through such digital ‘Sync Ads’ on companion apps and devices.
    SecondScreen Networks

  13. bigbearswife says:

    @meaganadele I have the tv on maybe 2 hours a day and its normally just for back ground noise @ginidietrich

  14. justinsocial says:

    @meaganadele I’m probably at less than that for the entire week!

  15. Seems like this just puts an extra burden on TV networks. They produce and distribute the show, no one pays attention to the ads, ad revenues drop (presumably), so they have to try to make something of the online traffic they generate. But I don’t feel sorry for them, they’re gonna make a mint before November mercifully passes.  My eyeballs belong to Netflix, at any rate. 

    • ginidietrich says:

       @barrettrossie You know, I’d really love your take on this…particularly with your background. 

      •  @ginidietrich I don’t know if my take is all that valuable bc I watch so little live TV. But when I do, I have my trusty iPad with me, to use during those boring commercial messages. 
        Is there opportunity?  Something in my gut tells me that watching TV and “talking” to more than one or two people at a time, while distracting from the show you just have to see, just isn’t all that compatible.
        Seems to make more sense to engage people after the show. I think American Idol and Survivor do a good job of that. If X-Files were still on, I could see the online community being massive. (Am I hopelessly out of touch?)

      •  @ginidietrich How could you watch TV with everything else you do? Good on  you, lady. 

  16. mstoeydesigns says:

    @meaganadele @ginidietrich Sad to say we do but that’s life in suburbia. Nothing to do esp. if u don’t have kids.

  17. DHPStudios says:

    RT @_ExecutiveGroup What #social #TV means for marketers

  18. Rodriguez247 says:

    I recently started to follow the trends of Social TV after I read this very telling article – my wife and I watch only 2 hrs of television weekly religiously – True Blood & The Newsroom (then we’ll go back to our weekly movie schedule, lol) The point is that TV programmers are slowly catching up to the phenomenon of Social TV and they are doing it in baby steps. Two companies that I currently follow because of their white papers & for their analytics. There is a lot of potential in SocialTV, it’s just a matter of knowing how to use it correctly.For example GetGlue is slowly and surely making sure that people are connected to a social network of people talking about their favourite show. I joined originally to get stickers, but now it’s strictly research, behaviours & trends. Thanks for the article. 

  19. Alanaxemko7l5 says:


  20. Matt Hunter says:

    This is an incredibly interesting and fast moving area.
    I’ve just received a grant to conduct some primary research down in Singapore around how people are viewing video with multiple devices. Singapore has the highest rate of smartphone and tablet penetration in the world and the fastest broadband connections. It’s going to be fascinating to see how behaviour there compares to the US.
    My guess is Singapore is a few years ahead of the US in terms of moving over to watching video on different devices and watching downloaded/streamed content.
    The really interesting part is how people are using multiple devices at once and have different behaviour for every device: main screen passive viewing on the TV set, intimate communications and micro-tasks over smartphone, research on laptop and exploration on tablet – in some cases, all at once!
    Creates some awesome opportunities for digital/broadcast crossovers over the next couple of years. 

  21. mikefixs says:

    RT @markwschaefer: What Social TV Means for Marketers via @ginidietrich

  22. JustInTheSouth says:

    @rriveroa Thanks for the RT. Hope your Monday is off to a great start.

  23. […] Reporting on her recent speaking engagement at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications conference, Gini Dietrich posts “What Social TV Means for Marketers” at Spin Sucks. […]

  24. […] particular interest is the second one, seeing as I just blogged more about it last […]

  25. jmgarciaprada says:

    @vpl67 gracias por leerme y RT!, cómo y cuando quedamos en Londres?, un abrazo

  26. […] show, displayin' thar tweets as captions at yonder bottom o'ye TV screen.   Accordin' t'recent Nielsen research  “88 percent o'tablet an' 86 percent o'smartphone owners use their de'ice while watchin' […]

  27. […] Words with Friends, and keeping up with other forms of entertainment, including the Olympics. Convergence is happening, and recent studies from Pew and others are showing some rather exciting possible futures for […]

  28. gardnerdh says:

    Check out a great, new book on the subject. Used it in my Master’s thesis and incorporating into my Media Industries class — SOCIAL TV: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences by Connecting Television to the Web, Social Media, and Mobile by Mike Proulx and Stacey Shepatin.

  29. […] What Social TV Means for Marketers ( […]

  30. […] Sources: ,,, Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Chase Jarvis […]

  31. […] What Social TV Means for Marketers [online article and slides] […]

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