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Social TV: The Next 12 Months

What does the future hold for Social TV? For Social Media Week we hosted a special panel discussion in our New York office to find out. The panel, led by Digitas’ Jordan Bitterman, SVP, Social-Mobile-Content Lead, covered the evolution of Social TV—and how the experience might change moving forward. Bitterman moderated a discussion with Lisa Hsia, EVP, Bravo Digital Media; Greg Rivera, Senior Director, Xbox Advertising Sales; and Natan Edelsburg, staff writer, LostRemote and VP of Sawhorse Media.

Each panelist expressed a diverse opinion of the current state of Social TV. Hsia described it as a couch with an unlimited amount of seats, a far-reaching platform with the potential to curate, amplify, and create content. Rivera provided a broad definition, where audiences watch television while interacting with each other in real time. Edelsburg referred to the redefinition of viewership due to additional screens, which allows television creators to interact with viewers before, during, and after air-time. In an increasingly on-demand world, viewing experiences are not necessarily in real-time. He also asserted that the real Social TV is happening in between episodes and seasons, urging creators to continue storylines and character development while off-air. Just think about the big following behind Modern Seinfeld on Twitter.

All three panelists agreed that regardless of the platform, content remains king. Each spoke of the importance of social TV for marketers, with the potential for engagement, emotional connection, and even editorial input as the line between publisher and marketer blurs.

As for the future of Social TV? Hsia predicts a continued growth in mobile activity, while Rivera feels interactive programming will move beyond live events to give audiences the opportunity to collaborate and influence the outcome of a scripted television program. Edelsburg foresees a different economic climate in terms of international television distribution as content becomes increasingly shareable.

The consensus: the possibilities for Social TV are endless, and its potential is still growing.

Couldn’t make it to the event? There’s another good recap up on, plus check out this photo of the panelists here—with more to come. You can also see a shorter take on Social TV in these Vines from Lisa, Greg, and Jordan here


DCNF: The Microsoft Advertising Digital Showcase

Digitas is recapping events from the Digital Content NewFronts! Stay tuned for posts every day, and on April 26, we'll be live-blogging various sessions from our own event, the Digitas NewFront.

Digital has forever changed television. Hosted by popular web series creator Felicia Day, the Microsoft Advertising Digital Showcase provided a lot of valuable insights on not only digital content, but how TV is moving into the space.

NBC News reporter Kate Snow talked about how digital has completely changed her life as a journalist—it’s changed the way she gathers information, connects with people, and presents stories. NBC often posts story previews online before they show them on TV the next day, and Snow has found herself engaging and responding to comments live on the air.

Lloyd Berman, of BermanBraun, talked about the change in consumer habits, and how TV business models haven’t kept up with the pace. Right now, there’s still too much of an emphasis on live ratings. A show can be pronounced dead in the press the night after it airs—and that doesn’t even take into account DVR.

TV executives also have to be conscious of the differences they’ll face when diving into online programming. Digital is a different medium. There’s more niche/targeted audiences, new technologies, and shows are produced much more quickly and cheaply online than on TV. But at the same time, some things will never change. No matter the medium, consumers will always value good quality, storytelling, and talent,

Memorable moment: when Felicia Day introduced herself and her show, The Guild. Bold, smart, and funny, she praised Microsoft for letting her stay true to the content of her show, and made a great host for the day’s events.


Announcing the Digital Content NewFronts

We're excited to announce that Digitas is collaborating with some of the biggest names in online video—AOL, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft Advertising, and Yahoo, Inc.—for a two-week series of events in NYC from April 19–May 2, organized under one theme: the Digital Content NewFronts (DCNF). Similar to a television upfront, these digital video leaders will host independent events to showcase talent, launch new online video channels and premiere original digital native shows.

The time is now for the Digital Content NewFront events.  Online ad spend is expected to reach $39.5 billion in 2012; of this, video ad spend will grow to $7 billion. In December alone, there were 165 million unique U.S. video viewers who streamed over 22 billion videos.

This demand increases each month and with it, the opportunities for brands. By partnering with these digital leaders on the Digital Content NewFronts, we are collaboratively declaring the need for investment dollars to mirror consumer interest and behavior.

We're very proud to be the brain trust behind the DCNF, having born the idea from our own success with our annual Digitas NewFront. Celebrating its fifth year, the Digitas NewFront  will be held as one of the anchor events of the two weeks on Thursday, April 26.

At last year’s event we brought together over 800 participants including talent, brands, creators and distributors. We premiered original web series, welcomed to the stage Tyra Banks, Ashton Kutcher and Susan Sobbott, President of American Express OPEN, and over 250,000 live-streams tuned in across the globe.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • RSVP to the Digitas NewFront livestream:   
  • Join the conversation on Twitter
    -  Digital Content NewFront hashtag (for the entire two-week series of events): #DCNF
    -  Digitas NewFront hashtag (for our April 26 event): #NewFront
  • Check the Digitas YouTube page for exclusive video content: Digitas NewFront Playlist 

- Colin Kinsella, CEO, Digitas North America



Cannes Lions 2011, Day 3: Google, Microsoft and Facebook  

CANNES - June 23, 2011 

Three of arguably the most influential media platforms of the last decade took the stage back to back in the Debussy theater to share their perspectives on the industry, their businesses, and what the future holds for us all. 

Google chairman Eric Schmidt (who later that night was named Cannes Lion Media Person of the Year) focused on the power of the web to self regulate and self select content. "Even creative people don't know which ad is best...the web is self-policing. Let the web decide." He also sees mobile as a game changer in the way we interact with the web and each other, predicting, "the phone as the primary content platform of tomorrow." These factors combine evoke a future of possibility and innovation. He explains these advances more as a natural, inevitable evolution than some kind of forced breakthrough. "Almost all revolutions are actually evolution. They just seem like revolutions." 

Microsoft Ad Solutions focused on Kinect and the potential to radically change the way we interact with digital media. As Kudo Tsunoda waved through the powerpoint slides of his presentation with his hands, he demonstrated first hand the power of syncing natural human gestures and behavior with modern digital media. 

Facebook VP of Global Marketing Carolyn Everson focused her discussion on the power of social referral. "When a friend recommends a product, a consumer is 4x more likely to complete purchase…a recommendation from your friend is the most powerful form of advertising." She goes on to share Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's point-of-arrival vision for brands on the platform: to have brand messages become as influential and credible as a recommendation from a friend. On today's Facebook that may seem further on the horizon. But with leading brand marketers pioneering a new philosophy of not talking "at" customers but connecting with their passions and delivering value, Zuckerberg's vision may not be as far out as we think.

Three media powerhouses, three provocative sessions, one message: tomorrow holds an inspiring, daring, if not awing, vision of the future. All in all, Schmidt put it best, "the exciting part is we're just getting started."

Today's Cannes Lions 2011 coverage was done by Digitas' Alex Jacobs. For continued coverage of the festival follow him on Twitter - @Digitas - Check out yesterday's recap herePlus, Digitas is sponsoring Team USA in the Young Lions program! Learn more about it here.


What Microsoft’s Purchase of Skype Says About The Future of Social Networking

What are the implications of Microsoft's purchase of Skype? Digitas' Jordan Bitterman, SVP, Social Marketing Practice Director, shares his thoughts on the deal and the future of social networking.

Last week, Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion.  Much of the news surrounding this deal has centered on the price tag.  Microsoft’s purchase figure is 3x what eBay received when it sold Skype to a group of private investors just 18 months ago.  Has Skype found a far more profitable revenue source since then? All indications suggest it hasn’t.  So, for the moment, let’s set aside the valuation – as well as the clear trend that many acquisitions in the Internet and technology space are occurring at skyrocketing multiples – and consider the implications of the deal.

In making this purchase, Microsoft is indicating to the market (and marketers, for that matter) that they are doubling-down in the social networking category.  Skype is a social network.  Sure it’s an IP telephony company, but with 170 million users, it is similar in size to Twitter and has a global footprint to match.

By purchasing Skype, Microsoft can now freely integrate the service into its other product offerings.  For instance, X-Box Live users may be able to add additional functionality to live game play. When users search for a retail establishment on Bing, they may be given the option of direct dialing the resulting merchants.  Windows 7 phones may get a much-needed boost by providing many users the ability to access Skype with deeper integration.  Microsoft Office might soon integrate Skype into PowerPoint and Excel allowing for real-time presentation and collaboration.

Each of these possibilities adds so much connectivity to existing products that one must think about the other mergers, acquisitions and strategic partnerships to be struck in the months to come.

If Pandora and Twitter joined forces, music enthusiasts could share the identity of tracks they have just heard and follow people who have similar taste in music.  If local cable companies such as Comcast or Time Warner partnered with Foursquare, they could create check-ins for content and connect the associated programming to the TV’s built-in cable guide and DVR & on-demand functionality.  If financial services firms with closed-loop capabilities teamed-up with Google Maps, customers could get deals at establishments based on their phone’s current location.

Time – and a great deal of back-end integration – will tell if Microsoft’s purchase of Skype was worth the transaction price.  But to me, the exciting part of this announcement is the path it has cleared for the exciting possibilities to come.

For more of Jordan's insights, follow him on Twitter - @jordanbitterman. And be sure to check out his interview on Bloomberg's "InBusiness with Margaret Brennan" where he shares his thoughts on brand content and The NewFront.