Technological leaps have enabled consumers wielding Internet technology to connect to whatever interests them anytime, anywhere. Yet when it comes to time spent, the most popular medium is one that’s nearing its 90th anniversary. Television’s longevity is driven by its unmatched ability to capture consumers with emotive storytelling through sight, sound and motion. It’s no surprise then that TV still gets the bulk of brand advertising dollars.

What is new, however, is that television viewers are increasingly active on their digital devices while watching. According to Accenture, 87% of global viewers use smartphones, tablets, laptops or other devices at the same time they are watching TV. These multi-taskers are often doing research on what they are watching or using social media to engage with a program and its cast, access other viewers’ reactions or share their own opinions.

In this way, social media has transformed TV moments into participatory media events. Historically a one-way vehicle, television has become a multi-directional interactive experience. With 71% of U.S. Internet users visiting a social media platform during TV commercial breaks, the interactive experience applies to ad messages as well as program content. Advertisers can no longer ignore the cross-channel impact of their TV advertising.

In a new study, completed in partnership with Turner, 4C found TV advertising drives 20% of consumer interaction with brands on Facebook and Twitter. That figure becomes more impressive when you consider that TV-influenced social media users must switch their focus to a secondary device and then navigate to a social media or brand app -- signifying strong consumer intent and interest in the brand.

For driving multi-screen social media brand engagement, not all TV shows are created equal. The standout is premium programming -- such as sports, live events and originals -- that people will not record for later viewing or catch on demand. Our study found that TV ads that ran during premium content resulted in more than 4.5 times additional social media brand engagement than ads running during non-premium programming.

Premium TV is key to creating the shared media experiences of today’s always-on, multi-screen consumers. These events get large audiences, and the phenomena of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and FOOF (Fear of Our Feeds being littered with spoilers) greatly increase the number of people who gather around their TVs and devices to contribute to these collective experiences.

As a result of TV turning into a participatory activity for consumers, advertisers are now developing cross-channel strategies to capitalize on shared media experiences. That’s because brands, too, are now experiencing FOMO. They don’t want to be left behind in making real-time contributions to the collective consciousness as “must-share” replaces “must-watch” in the marketing lexicon.  

Just as technology empowered consumers to share, it will enable advertisers to remain relevant amongst multi-tasking consumers. Combining TV and social analytics and activation allows advertisers to capture the emotion from consumers and deliver timely, targeted and synchronized messages. Being able to do so at scale will make a brand both part of the cultural dialogue and meaningful to consumers.

Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.