It’s not TV, it’s Facebook TV

By Natan Edelsburg 

FacebookTV(This is a guest post written by Jesse Redniss the Chief Strategy Officer at Spredfast. Redniss is a social TV and second screen expert who was a 9-year TV network executive.)

The past few weeks have seen a piranha like feeding frenzy of TV focused announcements by the major social platforms. With new insights about TV fan engagement on Tumblr, YouTube buying Twitch, a Pinterest fueled reality show on FYI Network, demographic metrics included in the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, and 4 new APIs from Facebook focused on identifying and visualizing engagement around television shows, it’s clear to see that the love affair with Social TV is alive and well. But, Facebook’s ACR based app update announcement on Wednesday may be one of the biggest things to happen to the space since the pound sign morphed to the hashtag and became the cool kid in the stream. 

Sure, many of you will automatically say “No way, you’re crazy!” But, hear me out.

SCALE AND DATA: Plain and simple, Facebook has it and it’s massive. With multiple ways to pull data insights from the graph, TV focused hashtag mentions API, topics API, key word insights API, likes, shares and comments… the addition of the ACR feature is another way that Facebook can verify that a person is actually watching a show in real-time. It remains to be seen how many people will actually turn the ACR feature on, but even a small percentage of Facebook will yield major results.

The insights and psychographic data attached to a few hundred thousand people verifying they are watching TV is roughly 10x larger than the current Nielsen sample size. Now, what happens if this scales to millions of people synching every day? #metricsgamechange

MONETIZATION: The data alone is extremely valuable, not only to the networks, but the advertisers too. Why? Ad targeting. Facebook makes roughly $5.85 ARPU from its U.S users. If Facebook can successfully scale the ACR feature and create a highly targeted synchronized second screen ad offering for TV advertisers, they will start funneling more of those TV 360 ad dollars to their mobile FB streams and increase that revenue. It’s there that advertisers can really drive engagement and entice consumers to reach out and touch some branded glass.

Now, every branded integration and 30 second spot has an opportunity to promote to and travel across screens, working simultaneously with an interactive ad offering on the largest social network in the world

DEEP CONTENT EXPERIENCES: Many networks have been pushing the envelope with rich second screen content experiences that engage tens of thousands of fans to synchronize their screens. From the Team Coco app, GoT and Syfy app to Fox Now and USA’s Second Screen syndication API, the networks are experimenting and looking at ways to scale the audience for these offerings.

I have first hand knowledge of how powerful an orchestrated second screen content syndication play can work. Enabling a rich content experience wherever the fan is, is of paramount importance. Being able to now do that on Facebook, is HUGE. It’s a scale multiplier.

The ACR feature will act as a gateway for those deep second screen experiences. As the TV Networks look to create their synched second screen experiences to keep users engaged, they also drive up opportunity to capture more data and ad dollars. If you create great content, and actually promote to it, they do come.

FORESHADOWING: For those of us that are entrenched in the industry and practice of multiplatform consumer engagement, the Social TV announcements out of Facebook have been quite exhilarating. But is this it? I doubt it. It’s in the cards. Facebook still needs to play a hand and launch interactive cards/posts in the stream.

The launch of Paper was an early indication that Facebook wants to push the boundaries of capability. Panoramic scrolling photos, inline video playback on the tiles…. Interactive features such as trivia,
Polls, animated infographics and games? That can’t be far behind, and that’s the content within many second screen offerings.

So, call me crazy, but I believe we now have a thriving social TV ecosystem that spans across all of the major social platforms today. The recent moves by Facebook may just catapult them to the front of the class. Can’t wait to see what happens.