Richard dean Conference chairman
General manager, MEA and Turkey, Velti
Founder and CEO, Icflix
MD and partner, Sawa Media
Second screens are gaining popularity in the region, with people regularly watching TV and movies on tablets and smartphones. A panel from the ITP Broadcast Forum that took place in Dubai, discussed how this is affecting regular TV viewing habits, and how broadcasters can add value
Moderator: Second screens are not a new issue. Do you have to produce different types of content for different types of media? Does it matter what a viewer is consuming it on?
Ajouz: We do our own productions and we take into consideration the various screens that are available today. But we also distribute content and we focus on the content we acquire to redistribute. We focus on getting all the rights available so we can distribute it across all platforms. So yes we have multi-screen, multiplatform as the basis of our strategy in terms of content acquisition for redistribution.
Moderator: What’s the difference, whether I’m watching on a flatscreen or smartphone?
Ajouz: There are lots of differences. We call it second screen and keep in mind the first screen is still the preferred screen. A lot of people think the second screen is now the preferred screen, which it’s not, that’s why it’s called second screen.
So the second screen is used in many things. One is continuous viewing; if you are watching
something and you walk away but you continue to watch it elsewhere, for example on a smartphone. Or, with out of the house viewing, you might want to catch up with something.
The second screen in terms of content viewing is used for a lot of news updates, video news, reading news. News is the most consumed element on the second screen. More importantly the second screen is being used as a monetising opportunity for advertisers so today it is available worldwide and to us in the Middle East you can actually monetise your second screen through interactivity.
You are watching something on the first screen, and an advert for pizza come up. You might get an offer on your second screen, you press a button and a pizza is delivered half an hour later.
Use of the second screen is not just video, it is actually monetising the first screen, interacting with user voting. A lot of TV networks are now not in the Middle East but outside and they are using the second screen interactive application to encourage continuous viewing of the programme.
They encourage interaction to keep you engaged. Other uses of second screen are increasing and other ideas will come up. It is limitless what you can do with a second screen.
Today sports in the office is being consumed on the second screen. Al Jazeera has a great application, great apps are available on second screens and it is increasing that consumption. So it [second screen] is here to stay and it will increase but the first screen is still the first choice.
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Moderator: Carlos - you launched Icflix fairly recently. To what extent were you thinking about multiple screens when you created this platform?
Tibi: The whole idea is to be on as many screens as possible, we don’t limit it to one screen, we are actually on about 400 different devices today. For instance if you are at home and watching something and all of a sudden you have to go somewhere and you have your tablet with you, you can actually continue to watch that same show on your tablet.
Within the same screen we are now introducing a new function which is screen in screen, which is pretty unique for an OTT player. So within the same player you can actually watch two screens at the same time, or stream two different sets of content and at the same time. With multi-content you can watch multiple videos on different screens at the same time.
Moderator: To what extent do we use different screens for different things?
Tibi: Yes we have done some research on this. The data we have done over the last six months shows that most people are interested in watching content such as video or TV series on their own, 60% is still with the PC market - the traditional computer and laptop - and the rest is spread across tablets or mobile phones.
People would still like to watch movies or series on their PC or laptop. Smart TVs or TVs catch up to 5% or 6% of that market. A lot of people are busy these days and would rather take the tablet or laptop, lie down on bed and just continue watching the TV series.
We read similar trends from Europe and the US. In the US, 70% of people consuming OTT are actually on PCs or laptops. The number is shrinking as TVs become smarter and tablets are becoming better. So it’s slowly trending towards tablets and smart TVs over the next few years.
Moderator: Miltos, in simple terms you make money out of mobile, right?
Vidalis: I think we need to differentiate between the meaning between the platform and the screen. From my point of view the important thing is not the different screens but the technology behind that, the possibility that the end user has different screens.
The main difference I see between the traditional broadcasting and the new IP based broadcasting is that the IP has back channel. We can develop things like on-demand content which is very important and makes a huge difference in the way people are experiencing content and consumption.
We also gather information profiling from the viewer that you can actually use to target advertising. This helps resolve issues and problems that all the traditional advertisers are facing today like people metering.
So you know exactly what your users are looking at and you can actually tailor your advertising to these users. The broadcaster has a means of getting some information back from the user and this is more important for all the business models that are developed now than how to tailor content on different sizes of screens.
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Moderator: How would you tailor the commercial advertising we receive of the second screens? What methods of advertising aren’t interruption advertising?
Vidalis: There are different modes of putting advertising in an interactive environment. One is sponsorship, so people are sponsoring the show. The other way is you can have some of the trailers running in terms of the show. If you go to the future you can have in-programme embedded advertising that changes based on the customer needs.
For example if you have a sitcom which has some product placements, you can change them based on the audience and the profile of the customer. Of course all these things are being developed at the time but I strongly believe that in the future you are going to see on-demand content that is going to utilise these kind of ideas, but also you are going to have linear content all on an IPTV environment.
This is important because you can really make different in-stream advertising per customer, so now we have one stream with linear, so the same programme is broadcast to all customers but afterwards we are going to optimise the advertising for you.
Moderator: Where is this going Ali? There were content creators and advertising agencies, and they never met did they? Now are lines blurring.
Ajouz: We have launched digital product placement in the Middle East and we embed advertising in programmes that we have already produced. You think it’s there in the original production but it’s not. One example is for Vodafone in the Dallas series.
Moderator: Do the guys who produce Dallas have to create a template for that?
Ajouz: No, we take the actual format as it is, we ingest it, analyse where we can do the embedding, present it to the client. The client says yes, we do it and we deliver it. Of course this has to be done at the right time. You can’t just change content without clearing the rights.
Also, relevance is very important. In the UK it is done quite a lot of now. For example, if there is a kitchen scene and there’s a brand tea visible, the chances are that it wasn’t there when it was produced, it was embedded.
A lot of Coronation Street is full of DPP (direct product placement) without you realising it, from breakfast cereals to washing powder and tea. That doesn’t replace advertising, it complements advertising, but it is one way of communicating brand awareness without interrupting the viewing.
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Moderator: Product placement is a very sensitive issue. How do you bring advertising into the show without undermining the authenticity of the programme?
Tibi: I think part of the problem today is a lot of consumers, especially the new generation, are looking to consume content without interruption and that is why you have the rise of online OTT.
They felt the real message was to go off and watch the product without any interruption whereas on linear television you have 12 minute breaks in some premium shows. A lot of people are frustrated, they don’t even want to watch the show, they will wait till it airs online somewhere and then they will go and consume it.
People are tight with their schedules today, they don’t have a lot of time to wait and consume the content, especially if you add another 12-15 minutes of advertising interruption, so they will go off and watch it without advertising online.
Moderator: Carlos, one of Icflix’s pledges is “no adverts”. But that doesn’t mean no messages from sponsors, will they just have to be in a non-interruptive way?
Tibi: That is where the trend is going. I’ve been talking to a lot of studios and a lot of companies are actually using the product within the show itself, so for instance if you take Pepsico, they will say why don’t you consume a Pepsi product while producing the show? That is where the trend is going. The key market the traditional way will be more with sports like soccer, less will be on TV and movies as we go into the future.
I want to make a clear difference between the on demand and the linear content. With on-demand content, there will be a linear distribution over IP networks where you have a very strong need to have a more measured, tailored advertising where you have traditional advertising today, and this is a big need we are also looking at.
On the other hand, with second screen you will see in the next five to 10 years you are not going to have a first screen. Now we are differentiating between PCs and TVs. In the future there is not going to be this kind of differentiation.
You are going to have set top boxes that we see from Apple or Google and so on that are actually distributing content from the PC to the TV, or you are going to have smart TVs with integrated functions.
Look at Internship the movie. I remember Google they were measuring the comparative awareness of the brand valuation of Google, actually it went up by 10% just because of that movie.
People are realising that embedding advertising into movies like Internship is far more effective and creating more trend in the industry than the traditional 20 second slots on TV.
You see a lot of advertisers going that way and going off to studios and saying we will sponsor, we’ll give you all the products for free and dollar value to advertise.