Like all the best blog posts, Jenny and Neil’s thoughts on ‘Getting your TV talked about’ made me want to dash off instant responses. That’s part of my job, I guess. But as a speaker at this year’s Plannertarium I thought I should try not to give the Thinkbox line on anything but focus on just one aspect of TV viewing that I think plays a big role in talkability, and that’s shared viewing.
The majority of the TV we watch is with someone else in the room at the same time, usually someone we live with the rest of the time! Despite the number of single person households increasing by 16% over the last 6 years, overall levels of shared viewing have held steady (52% overall and over 70% in peak-time) and hence is increasing for those people who don’t live alone.
The Thinkbox research project TV Together was quite tricky to conduct because shared viewing is so much the norm that it was hard to get people to start talking about it. But once they got going we uncovered many hilarious and even moving examples of what shared TV viewing means to people. There was even one middle-aged lady who gets up and goes down the road every evening to watch the soaps with her neighbour because her husband won’t watch them with her.
Most people don’t have to wait until the following day to talk about the TV programmes and ads they’ve seen around a watercooler – they do it instantly. This is unique to TV we think (you do watch cinema ads with other people, but it’s tricky to talk about them without getting popcorn thrown at you).
But is it valuable? You could argue that there’s the potential for distraction if people talk too much, but the benefits are huge and especially for certain categories. For any product that requires a joint decision – cars, holidays, furnishings, even investments – having a couple watching ads together is gold-dust. Then there’s gifting; hearing a partner/child talk about products they like the look of – fashion, games, books, CDs, fragrances – is a big help when thinking of what to buy for birthdays or Christmas.
This leads us to the topic of wastage. I think this is a misnomer in TV because you’re not buying a fixed price for a page or panel. You pay for the audience you’re targeting, so everybody else is not wastage but a bonus. Your target audience might be 18-34 men for a beer say, but when his mum hears him comment on a beer he likes that could well influence her next supermarket trip.
The lovely thing about shared viewing is that BARB already offers us all the data we could ever need to highlight those programmes where it can be maximised if you think it has a benefit for your brand.
You’ll have to wait until the Plannertarium to hear what I think about more funky topics like facilitated word of mouth, multi-tasking, creative fame, social ideas, on-demand viewing, the Virtual Sofa and what they all mean for talkability. But don’t forget about the delightful and simple phenomenon of shared TV viewing; use it and don’t take it for granted.