Why Apple TV is finally turning marketers’ heads

With brands including Just Eat, Airbnb and the Wimbledon tournament recently incorporating Apple TV into their social marketing strategies, will the platform finally take off for brands?

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Despite the first Apple TV launching in 2006, it is only now that brands are seeing the opportunity and including the platform in their marketing strategies.

Just Eat, the online food order and delivery service, is launching an “industry first” group-ordering experience on Apple TV. It works by syncing its Apple TV app with any mobile phone connected to the same Wi-Fi, to allow friends in the same room to make combined orders from a number of devices.

Ben Carter, UK marketing director at Just Eat, says Apple TV can help it to become a “permanent feature” in living rooms. He explains: “Working with brands like Apple, Amazon and others, we want our technology to become a permanent feature in our customers’ living rooms, as well as in our restaurant partners’ offices and kitchens.”

The Lawn Tennis Association saw a similar opportunity and commissioned its partner IBM to create a Wimbledon app for Apple TV. For this year’s Wimbledon tournament, it enabled users to browse through real-time scores, listen to live radio channels, watch its ‘Live at Wimbledon show’ and stay updated with the latest match highlights.

Travel site Airbnb, meanwhile, has tried to make its offering even more local through Apple TV, allowing its customers to check out holiday rentals from their living rooms. The brand said in a blog post at the time of its launch that its Apple TV app has been optimised for immersive photos and was designed for the platform “because we [Airbnb] think travel is best when it’s shared.”apple tv

Why is now the right time to adopt the platform?

Over the past eight years Apple TV has sold only 25 million devices, which Forrester Research’s vice-president and principle analyst James McQuivey says is “notably low by Apple’s otherwise high standards”.

Yet Forrester still sees an opportunity for Apple in the TV space. In its research of the US market, it found that binge viewers watch 12.3 hours of traditional TV per week, compared to 7.5 hours of online viewing. Similarly, non-binge watchers watched 11.8 hours of linear TV and movies, compared with 3.4 hours streaming or through downloads – figures that reiterate the importance of traditional TV.

The research also found that 66% of binge-viewers have a TV connected to the internet, either as a smart TV, through a game console, an over-the-top set-up box or with a laptop connected via HDMI. And as more consumers use TVs with a connection to the internet, Apple TV will become more appealing as a marketing channel, according to McQuivey.

He is also backing an update that will launch in September 2016, which includes Siri features such as asking to go straight to a specific app or only needing to sign on once to access pay-TV, to go down well with brands.

Andy Brown, global CEO at Kantar Media, believes that despite a competitive TV market – where Apple is battling with companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky and Virgin –  Apple’s brand strength will ultimately help it gain traction.

“Apple’s strong brand equity should help it grow audience share, particularly skewed towards younger, more affluent demographics.”

Andy Brown, global CEO, Kantar Media

Can Apple TV catch on with more marketers?

Although there has been progress on the platform, not everyone is as confident as Just Eat, Wimbledon or Airbnb. Despite brands taking more notice of Apple TV, McQuivey says “content is king, and Apple doesn’t have it”.

He explains: “TV programmers like Discovery and Viacom do not feel threatened enough by digital to run panicked into the arms of Apple the way music and book publishing industries did. Netflix and Amazon have already established a thriving alternative marketplace for top talent to distribute their award-winning concept.”

“Airbnb will make for fun browsing on TV, but having to turn on your TV to book a vacation stay is so backward that nobody has ever built a business offering such a service.”

Paolo Pescatore, director of multiplay and media at CCS Insight, believes Apple TV can be a valuable platform for marketers but only if they are shopping brands or companies that provide a “social experience”.

He also said that platforms such as Apple TV should be ready to up their game as telecoms firms could prove to be worthy competitors: “I would certainly look at telecos and their ability to multi-play, particularly BT and Telefonica in Spain. Marketers would benefit largely from their big data and Apple will be aware of that.”

But with iPhone sales continuing to fall, the tech giant will be hoping any success, whether big or small, for Apple TV can provide a welcome distraction.


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will be headlining the Festival of Marketing, which is running on the 5 and 6 October at Tobacco Dock, London. For more information about the event, including how to book tickets, click here.

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