This year’s NAB has become the platform for innovation for social TV analytics. “The WASP Europe” a London-based company, that also owns and manages Belgium-based “The Application Store,” has just launched StatsForce.TV. CTO and Owner Serge Billiouw described the new product to Lost Remote as, “Bluefin Labs for Europe.” He added that there product is a “social TV analysis, but for every TV Channel in Europe, taking into account the local language, culture, TV Channels, networks.” We spoke with Billiouw and CEO Vincent Parisis about their company’s growth and the state of social TV in Europe and the unique perspective their company has.
Parisis described the growth of the company’s social TV footprint across Europe over the past few months. “We have closed a deal with DRG (London Based), the largest independent distributor of TV productions in the world,” he told Lost Remote. “We are currently building 5 apps for them, e.g. Doc Martin, Catch Phrase, Don’t Tell the Bride, etc.”
He also described how they’re working with broadcasters. “On the broadcaster side we are working on dedicated synchronised applications for RTL (One of Europe’s largest media groups), SBS, and others,” he explained. Also, their “Tapp patent” was granted in January in Europe and is pending coverage in North America. We interviewed him to learn more details about the state of social TV in Europe.
Lost Remote: What will StatsForce.tv provide for your clients in Europe?
Serge Billiouw: It’s all been written and developed in-house. At the moment we pull data from Twitter and Fcebook as GetGlue and Miso aren’t so popular in Europe yet, but we will add them very soon. We do our own analysis to determine gender, Klout score, coorelation with other shows, other brands. Of course it’s all running on a cloud to ensure speed and processing power. We trace shows on all tv channels throughout Europe and adapt for languages and so on! We also cumulate data per channel and create averages. We also have detailed analysis on all people interacting with the show and allow for direct engaging with them in our tool! We offer packages for stats for 1 country, several countries or for following specific shows In several countries.
We license the EPG. Hashtags and so on are done manually when a new country is setup. We search for specific hashtags of shows and tv channels and combine that with Facebook pages. And then we correlate with tags of brands to analyze the impact of brands in relation to tv shows and tv commercials.
Lost Remote: What is social TV like in Europe? Does every TV network want to engage with viewers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, second screen and more?
Vincent Parisis: TV Broadcasters in Europe are not making as much use of Twitter and Facebook as in the US (yet). European Broadcasters are convinced that social platforms are important, but they do not unnecessarily want to push their audience towards platforms which they do not own or control. When a TV-channel is referring/linking to Twitter or Facebook, the audience is taken away from the first screen and is not spending any more time with the broadcaster, but is triggered to have a look at what is posted on their friends wall, sharing pictures and videos, etc. The more time the audience is spending on social networks, the more the social networks are making money and the less the traditional broadcasters do.
With Tapp and Screentoo we have created a dedicated environment where the broadcasters are keeping their audience in their broadcasting environment. Their viewers can interact, vote, chat, poll, quiz, participate to a contest without leaving the broadcasters platform. Facebook and twitter are integrated in such a way that they do not take away the audience from the broadcaster but rather let the audience automatically share their participations in eg. a poll with their friends or followers. By integrating it in this way, the audience is attracted via the social networks to the tv-channels. Advertising income and micro payments operated through our micro payment system are generating income for the broadcasters.
Companion Social TV apps or Check in services are also not that popular in Europe. Zeebox has though booked some interesting successes in the UK (thanks to Anthony [their cofounder]), but is still very different.
LR: What TV company is the most advanced in social TV in Europe?
I think there is a substantial difference between the state owned channels and commercial European broadcasters. State owned channels are more likely to integrate and to make use of social networks as Facebook and Twitter, because they are not as much concerned with revenue as the commercial channels, because they care less about the business model. Commercial channels are more careful and they see the social networks as a new trend, but also as a threat for their revenues (advertising + monetizing interactivity).
It is difficult to say which European broadcaster is most focused on Social TV, they all are, but they’re trying to find the right angle.
LR: What are the differences between social TV in Europe and US?
VP: European channels always find it difficult to step out of a dedicated environment and to promote a logo on their channels which is not owned by them. In contrast to the US, where you can frequently see a Twitter logo on a channel. The business model in the US is mainly focused on advertising, in Europe it is advertising and premium interactions. Europe has been very progressive to charge its audience to participate to a voting of idols. The US only started a couple of years ago to use premium text for votings, quizzes.
European channels have had a lot of experience to know what they can charge the audience and what they need to offer for free. Since 1999, before we started with The Application Store we were mainly active in setting up premium text applications and services. This expertise is now being used to build Tapp, our patents pending interactivity and integrated billing engine. Tapp focuses on micro-payments and make it easy for the end consumer to pay for interactions.
LR: How does your company’s advertising model work?
VP: Regarding the advertising model, we also create added value by simultaneously synchronizing the commercials shown on TV with the second screen. Every commercial on TV will (unintrusively) pop up on your second screen, but we even took it a step further… when a consumer is interested in the ad he can immediately Tap(p) on the commercial and we adapt the commercial to his/her socio demographics that we know through Tapp. For example, if you see a BMW commercial on TV, a pop up will appear on your smartphone or tablet at the same time. When you Tap(p) on it and you are a 35 year old male, we will present you the BMW in darker colors. When you are a 21 one year old girl we will show you the BMW in lighter colors. This is something very unique and it is not hard to imagine the possibilities this could generate by integrating this into shopping TV-channels, during sports games when your favorite team scored, etc … The sky is the limit.
LR: What American brands are you working with?
VP: In order to present the Screentoo and Tapp solution to the American Broadcasting market, TAS has signed a fully integrated partnership deal with Snell. Snell is the a leading provider of broadcasting software and hardware to more than 700 broadcasters world wide. Snell has been providing broadcasting solutions for years to NBC Universal, Turner, HBO, etc.
Currently TAS is working on a couple of “proof of concepts” with major American broadcaster that can’t be disclosed at this moment. TAS launched the first Screentoo developments with “The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS)” and “Starclub” in September. The application was launched at IBC Amsterdam.