The new promise of TV: Atomic 2010

The conference's morning speakers offer insight into the new world of television viewing and dual-screen entertainment.

‘Unbridled attention – the premise media was built on – no longer exists.’

So said Atomic’s morning keynote speaker, Kevin Slavin, at the strategy magazine-hosted event yesterday in Toronto. The co-founder of Area/Code and CCO and co-founder of Starling spoke to the audience about the promise of technology and how it can help advertisers harness viewers’ new multi-screen habits.

Using the laugh track as an example, Slavin explained how viewers once needed the audio tool to feel at one with other TV viewers.

‘It was basically theatre brought into the home that left the audience behind,’ he explained. ‘There used to be an audience tied to it, and with TV that went away.’

Computers, he said, can help bridge that gap, moving TV from a medium that ‘targets you to a medium that includes you.’ Sixty percent of Americans now watch a second screen (a laptop, smartphone or tablet) simultaneously with TV, so the opportunity to create that co-viewing audience with real-time interaction has never been more promising, he said, citing his just-launched media venture, Starling, as an example.

The mediaco’s new ‘social TV platform’ offers dual-screen-motivated interactive games that bring viewers into the show while they watch it, bringing viewers in sync with one another via a shared experience. This engages viewers in a much different way than previously, but requires a change in approach by media companies, agencies and advertisers, Slavin explained.

‘People are still watching huge amounts of TV, that’s not going away. It’s just changing,’ he said. ‘When we make games, we don’t think of [people] as consumers or viewers. We think of them as users.’

Social games create a new media layer for TV, featuring a give-and-take environment and making what was once an invisible mass visible to mediacos.

Jamie Michaels, director of marketing, CBC, spoke after Slavin and offered Chevy’s package around Hockey Night in Canada as an example. The goal, he said, was to create a seamless experience across platforms.

Chevy is the naming sponsor of iDesk, part of the weekly broadcast, the daily HNIC Online show and the all-access camera, which can be controlled through the Chevy-branded HNIC website.

The iDesk has a large social media presence, and that steers viewers to Chevy on the website. According to Michaels, in Canada, 52% of viewers are online while watching TV. The broadcaster and the advertiser need to take advantage of that, he added, so viewers continually interact and the company becomes known as a facilitator of sports and great content.

‘What’s paramount to us is producing good content, but we want brands to enable that,’ said Michaels. ‘We’ve taken a real collaborative approach, working from the ground up. The research we’ve done is that roughly 90% or more have no issue, they’re neutral to positive, with content integration.’

Interview with Starling’s Kevin Slavin