Social TV Year-in-Review: Peel CEO and Co-Founder Thiru Arunachalam

By Adam Flomenbaum 

peel-smart-remote-462_1The below post is part of our 2014 Social TV Year-in-Review guest post series and is written by Peel CEO and Co-Founder Thiru Arunachalam

The Next Challenge for Social TV Is Quantifying Success

Social TV is no longer about simply creating a platform where fans and users can talk about shows they love or the “Did that really just happen?” moment from last night’s episode. In 2015, what will give social TV value is the ability to quantify its impact on ratings and revenue.

Nearly half of all smartphone owners watch TV with a device in hand on a daily basis.  A recent  Nielsen study revealed that 20 percent of tablet users and 13 percent of smartphone users have purchased TV-advertised products using their second screen. Bridging that last mile between second screen engagement and converting that engagement into ROI for advertisers and marketers is the big challenge for 2015.

Looking back on 2014, the social TV landscape hasn’t changed much, but the players in the space have consolidated or cleared out. This means that powerhouses Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate while vertically focused companies such as TVTag and Beamly are fading into the background. What remains clear is that in order to survive in the social TV landscape you need to be able to join the dominant player conversation and also show TV marketers what’s in it for them.

TV networks, marketers and advertisers have long struggled to measure the monetary impact of their social media campaigns. (Just because a Twitter user tweets about a TV show using an official show hashtag doesn’t mean that they are actually tuning in, let alone buying the sponsor’s products.)

As an industry, the inability to quantify the ROI of social TV created a huge chasm. Peel saw this as a significant area of opportunity in 2014. Leveraging the wide adoption of our smart remote app, we launched products–True Tune-in advertising and our Platform–which gave TV marketers tools to connect the dots between second-screen activity and what is happening on the TV itself.  With a simple tap of a banner on their smartphone, consumers can change the channel on their TV, program their DVR or set a watch later reminder.

What makes our platform unique is that it generates a single link for each TV show and its air time that works regardless of your locale, time zone or provider. TV networks and marketers can promote the link on social media for free. Or they can buy paid promotion within our smart remote app. Peel can quantify exactly how many people watched their show as a result of the promotion.  The early results are extremely promising. Networks using our True Tune-in advertising solution have increased a promoted show’s viewership by as much as 15 percent.

Back in April, I asserted that social TV companies are either dead or dying. I still stand by this statement, but want to clarify that social TV itself isn’t going away anytime soon. Beyond Peel, Facebook, Twitter and Netflix continue to fascinate and excite me. Facebook and Twitter have only scratched the surface of their social TV capabilities.

For example, I’m impressed by Twitter’s TV ad targeting. Twitter looks at which brands’ ads aired on what TV shows. Then it scans hashtags and tweets to find users who tweeted about those shows. Brands can then retarget those specific users with promoted tweets that are related to the ads that aired during the show. Our own research shows that this type of dual screen targeting has a powerful synergistic effect on increasing both brand recall and direct response.

Netflix is interesting because it was able to capitalize on the social buzz around its shows on Facebook, Twitter and other social TV outlets despite being an online-only streaming service. Plus, by shunning appointment viewing and letting users stream their favorite shows on demand, it proved there is another way to distribute and market content.

2015 will be an interesting year for social TV as we continue to find better ways to bridge between hashtags and tune-ins to give TV marketers the best ROI.