Social Search & Discovery – Psychodynamic Heuristics

Everyone agrees that social TV needs to be measurable. Advertisers need to secure their investments based on return value. A mobile device acts as a digital extension of each individual these days, which means that mobile phones are the gateway to accessing preferences, interests and behaviors that are unique to each individual. Mobile devices and secondary screens will have an essential role in the delivery of interactive multimedia and bidirectional communication by acting as portals to the individual. The mobile device is a pivotal point of access for bidirectional feedback, between the TV and the viewer, and between a company and a consumer.

I encounter and hear the same dilemma constantly, that there are so many channels, but there’s nothing on! This perpetual predicament indicates that there is a dire need for services that assist viewers in the “search” process by navigating through content sources. Existing companies across the TV spectrum are investing in technology and new services that help narrow down the plethora of sources by curating content. Currently, a popular form of search is through the use of a word cloud or tag cloud. This visual selection strains metadata down to generate suggestions directly related to the individual’s desired mix. Spotify uses this for it’s radio feature and Cablevision recently launched a channel to help navigate available content in this style. It’s a start, but I’ll be impressed when I’m offered entertainment suggestions from all available sources, such as: linear TV, DVR, On Demand, Pay-per-view, OTT streaming, web UGC, household cloud storage, game consoles, etc… The TV needs to be smart and exploited for its mechanical assets by deploying navigational pivots that intuitively make input switching a stress of the past.

TV today is static. The medium is mass-produced and often unrelated to my life on the surface. Search may cater to a viewer’s current mood, but discovery is what encourages the viewer to advance during the decision-making process. I learn about new music via my friends on Spotify and find new photos via my friends on Instagram. Both services are socially powered by leveraging communities on Facebook and Twitter to generate relatable content. Where is the Spotify/Instagram format for TV/Film/Games? The power of peer-to-peer influence can drive new consumers to products and maintain loyal users by providing a social value exchange.

Viewers are craving features that help put all that TV static into a dynamic social context. This is the element of “discovery.” In my opinion, discovery occurs when the information presented is surprisingly related to the viewer(s) own preferences and socially comparable to those in their respective network. Keynote speaker at the TVOT show (NYC 2011), Andy Mitchell, displayed a slide that said, “Friend to friend discovery drives more value than your average promotional campaign.” Facebook is a proven source for such social insights. Social discovery will be a key component in the content discovery process of the future.  To execute insightful discovery, the connected TV needs to become socially aware by accounting for both the physical and the virtual social experience.

The Physical. Decision-making is a frustrating process. Personally, I waste plenty of time searching through content, reading descriptions, watching previews and consulting reviews in order to select something that will also appeal to both my parents and myself, sometimes with a preteen sister in the mix! A true “smart TV” should assist me in this search and discovery process. The connected TV and all OTT services need to be able to account for multiple users. TV communication with surrounding mobile devices can establish the necessary touch-points individually seated on the couch. The smart TV needs to detect surrounding devices, process multiple accounts/preferences, extract value from those data sets and produce recommendations that are customized specifically to the unique viewing group.  A true social TV experience will be able to search through all available content, cater suggestions to the physical social group and compare generated content against associated virtual networks. This would truly reduce wasted time in the decision making process, increase users’ enjoyment by serving the physical group interest, facilitate communal content discovery and encourage mobile sharing for all viewers in the physical group. The same multi-user sensory system can propel interactive communication from the main unit (TV) to all peripheral devices (Mobile) to enable gamification, provide companion content and offer contextual commerce. ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) will soon be built into the TV and automatically extend engagement by offering companion content to peripheral mobile screens in the detected network. What technology do you think is best for bidirectional communication in a personalized area network?

The Virtual. Virtual communities influence the user(s) in the decision-making process by offering social validations. Validations can emerge from the public (out-group) and from the user’s personalized network (in-group). For example, visible and accessible contributions, like ratings/reviews, are perceived as a credible source because strangers in society become peers in a shared content community. An app given 4 stars from over 2,000 users will impact a potential consumer’s decision to purchase the product because the individual will impulsively acquiesce to the collective groupthink, based on scale. Although there is power in numbers, the true investment value will be in leveraging private social communities, where familiar faces naturally attract attention and interest. Motivation and incentive are heightened when the context of a decision is personalized by emotional connections to real world relationships. Social quality is a trusted in-group source, whereas; social quantity is a credible out-group source because the large scale endorses pubic opinion. Incorporating both public and private communities will offer valuable guidance during the search process and offer influential content suggestions for the multi-user group.

Connected TV needs to establish seamless communication with participating mobile devices. Then the smart TV needs to detect the multiple accounts engaged with their respective various social networks, compare multimedia content relationships on the social graph and extract presentable value. It won’t happen overnight, but refining the search process to become socially aware of both the physical and virtual connections will uncover psychodynamic insights in how information flows as well as perception of multi-device heuristic models. Early models will begin to establish expectations and influence viewers’ behaviors and habits. Connected TV and social TV implementation will lead to targeted marketing campaigns that strategically extend reach across screens and utilize the interactive feedback loop for localized and personalized fulfillment.

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What do you think? Add to the discussion & comment!

About Sarah Louise

I’m a millennial seeking to revolutionize TV with hybrid delivery and interactive programming. Seeking to advance the synchronization of multi-screen content to create heuristic harmony across fragmented devices. 2010 Graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications.
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4 Responses to Social Search & Discovery – Psychodynamic Heuristics

  1. Pingback: The Future of TV Advertising is Online | Marc Binkley Marketing

  2. Pingback: The Two Nineteen Recap 2012 | The SIGNAL

  3. Sarah Louise says:

    I think that entertainment companies are currently building their own user-centric ecosystems and deliver multimedia content/services for movies, games, TV shows, social, music, books, shopping, etc already…Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple especially. I have active accounts with all of them. I still think that a technology needs to be put in place where the TV (internal/external STB middleware) is able to automatically recognize mobile devices and push opt-in messages to engage. The TV will have a new welcome screen that should trigger such automatic synchronization options for the purpose of discovering what to watch w/in a group setting. Mobile connectivity can extract individual preference sets, social activity or queue to benefit group viewing. Once a program/content is selected, the TV will recognize all metadata and push opt-in synchronization to each “checked-in” viewer and offer companion content to engage in. That could be supplemental content via companion TV apps or used for remote control gamification.

    It’s hard to say that the user’s access to content will be limited to only those options provided by a sole parent entertainment company- maybe once the content is selected. The internet is about sourcing, multiple options….and I believe that modern TV will be about multiple input sourcing for both content and devices. However, parent entertainment companies will certainly compete for loyalty by striving to use their data sets to deliver the best contextual and personalized experience as discovery/recommendation engines, therefore aiming to keep users perpetually engaged w/ their exclusive content. But I believe that the synchronization technology will have to stand alone as a utility function.

    Glad to discuss this further! 🙂 Thanx for commenting Marc!

  4. Hi Sarah,

    Really interesting ideas you’ve presented here. I’ve had a recurring thought that entertainment companies may all be trying to build their own user-centric ecosystem. As Facebook, Google, Sony, Apple and Samsung acquire and converge their content delivery platforms they flatten the consumer touchpoints across silos. From that point, each user could access their branded account giving the user access to all the content owned by that parent company. In turn, the consumption history could be available for analysis by the parent company and which then offers “if you liked this you might also like these” type of smart searches customized to the individual consumer regardless of the screen they accessed the content from. Rather than a screen manufacturer building the technology to recognize multiple accounts to access data, do you think that it’s more likely that a player like Facebook, Apple or Sony would start their own entertainment environment with Movies, Games, TV shows, Music, Books, shopping etc.?

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