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Mobile TV will come of age in 2012

10 January 2012

Convention would have me begin this column with a glittering array of predictions for the year ahead, safe in the knowledge that come the end of the year, no-one will remember enough to hold me to account.

It’s a useful tradition for columnists wearily filing their January column in late December when everyone else has given up work and we’re too hungover to be searingly original.

This year, though, there’s one forecast I’m declaring with confidence and a clear head: 2012 will be the year that television, and television advertising, will finally and fully break free from the box in the corner of the nation’s living rooms and go mobile.

It’s happening already, of course, but our business models and the semantics of our industry haven’t quite caught up. Now the transition from the TV set to TV on the move is speeding up and broadcasters and brands are beginning to re-gear their approach to content creation and dissemination.

TV is travelling, via laptops, tablets and smartphones. Watching TV on devices that allow for interaction means content creators can enhance their products with new layers of information, gamification and community creation. You’ve only got to look at the Zeebox app to see how much more it’s possible to add to the TV viewing experience. And that’s only one example.

For advertisers, mobile TV means opportunities to unshackle from the 30-second slot. Advertisers still want – and need – to follow the big audiences that quality TV content can deliver. But breaking free from the old TV schedules means more flexibility to produce richer commercial content: longer ads, interactive ads, transactional ads. And mobile TV also allows brands to reach consumers when they’re more likely to be in a purchasing frame of mind.

All of this requires investment and a degree of risk. There will need to be experimentation and exploration to understand what works best and where and how audiences respond across different devices. The old certainties of who’s seeing your show or ad and when, already disrupted by timeshifted viewing patterns and on-demand TV, will crumble further.

On the other hand, interaction will open up new opportunities to track individual viewing and engage one-to-one. It’s exciting stuff and enough to overthrow that other New Year convention: the January Blues. Good luck with making the most of 2012.
Claire Beale is editor of Campaign

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