The TV is the ultimate home of the shared viewing experience and, for many years, has been the key route for brands to reach the consumer.
But an increase in TV-friendly web content means that there is now a wide variety of programming choice that goes far beyond that deployed by traditional broadcasters.
Smart TV, or TV connected to the internet, is opening up an entirely new opportunity for brands and their marketing.
That means that device manufacturers, broadcasters, content owners and advertisers need to be aware of new technologies and new services - all new ways to reach the consumer.
The TV set is once again going to become the media battleground but this time experienced by the consumer in a multichannel format.
Broadcasters have dominated access to the home screen for nearly half a century. In the last few years the advent of new technologies, and the inroads made into the home by the internet, have fractured that access.
As consumer time is spent split between TV, online, mobile, tablet, etc, access to the consumer, and the advertising budgets that go with it, have split accordingly.
Brands have found success with Facebook pages, YouTube channels and more, but it’s the widespread growth of smart TVs that is really changing the market.
Smart TV apps allow brands to create content and host it within their own branded channel, within the app store, on a variety of TV platforms.
The growing deployment of large numbers of internet enabled smart TV’s brings brands an opportunity to bypass the broadcaster altogether and take their message directly to the consumer.
By 2017, industry sources believe that nearly 650 million internet-connected TVs will have been sold around the world.
We know that there’s a shift in media consumption with increasing numbers of customers using their smart TVs to consume programming and stay connected to their social networks at the same time.
The real question is how brands are going to interact with this new framework.
In the traditional market, brands who wanted to launch TV channels has to pay gatekeepers such as Sky significant sums of money just to get a toehold in the living room.
But if a brand launches a TV app, anyone with a smart TV can access it. That means smart TV apps give brands a point of entry to the TV experience in a way that completely captures viewer attention.
Instead of paying rent to a TV provider, they can create their own branded entertainment channels and launch it in the app store of a smart TV.
Content apps for smart TV provide an ideal channel for brands to create original entertainment formats.
These new content based apps allow the brand to communicate directly with its audience.
Brands can create and own original content, keep it with their own apps on a smart TV platform, but integrate the customer journey throughout the online world, from ad slots and teaser campaigns, and including search and ecommerce integration.
Brands need to understand the opportunities that new platforms, and a multi-channel media future, allows them.
As the technology and the markets change, brands should think strategically about how to align their content and communications to that change.
The power of branded entertainment, using links to related data and materials, could create far higher levels of engagement then traditional advertising, and it’s a growing market.
However, the world of smart TV does have its challenges in that every TV manufacturer, blu-ray device and set top box has its own slightly different technological ‘walled garden’ creating a much more fragmented environment than even mobile.
Technology exists, like the TV App Agency Engine, that can be used to develop apps once and deploy them across many TVs and multi-platform devices, so the challenge has returned to creating the best and most engaging, content.
A brand can offer content that ranges from videos to images, games, services, or any other form of content they desire.
It’s an obvious fit for most consumer brands, from entertainment, to sports, travel, education, lifestyle, news, property, fashion, retail, automotive, games and publishers.
The fragmentation of the market is a disincentive for investment by some, but the opportunity for some brands to become media companies and gain access to the largest screen in the home - the TV - may well prove too exciting an opportunity to miss.
It took less than five years for mobile apps to move from a marketing fad to a ubiquitous requirement and smart TV could prove the next step on that path.