Social media threatens TV ad revenue

Research shows that social media activity about TV shows is dominated by the 16- to 24-year-old age group. By Russell Parsons

Hollyoaks: TV shows aimed at a younger audience generate more online activity

Television and social media may be complementary but the opportunities to exploit the synergies are limited, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.

Broadcasters are increasingly using social media to engage with audiences and create an online buzz around their shows in the hope of boosting viewing figures and advertising revenue.

But Deloitte found that viewers’ enthusiasm is limited and driven by young people.

A survey of more than 4,000 people found that just 7% are fans of their favourite programmes on Facebook, although penetration among 18- to 24-year-olds shoots up to 46%.

The study found that 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds comment on the social media page of a programme while they are watching it, but almost all of them do this only “occasionally”.

Howard Davies, media partner at Deloitte, says social media raises interest in programmes and gives advertising revenues a boost.

“If social chatter is sufficiently voluminous this creates a snowball effect as traditional and new media pick up on the story,” he says.

“This typically raises the value of content – a programme with strong social currency is generally of greater appeal to advertisers as it means their brand becomes associated with content that is both watched and talked about.”

Davies adds that although the relationship between television and social media is mutually beneficial at present, it will become increasingly competitive over time.

“As the reach, use and value of social media and networks steadily rise, this could cause advertising budgets to get diverted from television. Over time, the reach of Web 2.0 is increasingly looking like it could emulate that of television.

“Combine this with online’s precise targeting and real-time measurability, and advertising rates for social networks and media could increase as they prove their efficacy and migrate to a cost-per-action model. If that did occur, then television would struggle to replicate this.”

Deloitte’s study follows a report by Ofcom that found that British viewers are increasingly using more than one type of communications device at the same time.

Media multitasking accounts for 20% of all media consumed throughout the day, according to the report. This increased juggling of media types is being driven by younger people, with 29% of 16- to 24-year-olds multitasking, compared with just 12% of people aged 55-plus.

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