Solving complexity for the SmartTV market

09 Oct 2012  |  Andy Eardley 

Andy Eardley, Director and Co-Founder of the TV App Agency, on how SmartTV is maintaining its position as one of the hottest spaces for content distribution and advertising. Yet while the potential for explosive growth exists, the question remains what will it take to stimulate mainstream take-up?

It's a given that the TV is the ultimate shared device for watching videos and viewing large images from the comfort of a sofa, rather than hunched over a 15" laptop. Certain types of content are best viewed on a TV and there are already several million smart TV's in the UK, which makes it a natural home for many consumer brands.

Historically, internet enabled TV was accused of being difficult to use but that has fundamentally changed in the last few years. In a world with 4 billion TV watchers, a billion more than the number of web and mobile users combined, the future of TV looks connected.

The latest stats from Informa suggest there will be more than 1.8 billion connected TV devices in homes worldwide by 2016, with analysts predicting that over 60% of households in the UK will be watching connected TV by 2014.

There is some concern that the build-up of connectivity has been slow however. While empirical evidence suggests UK figures that are far higher, according to US research by NPD In-Stat only half those who own an internet ready TV have connected.  For some it's too complicated, for others there's no compelling reason to make the effort.

That compelling reason could be the full convergence of hardware devices - mobile, tablets and TV - with the delivery of cross-platform content made efficient by software.  What that means is that getting the right content in the right place is the key to gaining widespread consumer uptake.

Of course, one of the key challenges for brands trying to get that content to the audience is technological complexity.  At the BBC for example, BBC iPlayer, News and Sport are delivered across 650 different types of connected device. In TV the challenge has been to decide between Samsung, LG, Philips, Sharp, Opera and Google TV.

Understanding the complexity of the SmartTV environment and predicting the most successful platforms, is critical to success. But as yet, there is no widely accepted standardised approach among manufacturers to support app developers. adRise warned, in its 2012 Connected TV Market Report, that the greatest hurdle to market growth is the fragmented device landscape that requires building apps and SDKs for each device.

Usage among all SmartTV devices is increasing and this has led to a 25x growth rate on the launch of apps. The heaviest use of such is proving to be during primetime TV hours, on both the weeknights and weekends, with ads having a 95% completion rate. Long-form ads were said to perform nearly as well. This means that the SmartTV market is one which no brand can afford to ignore.

All brands face decisions about how to prioritise spend, especially in today's market. Brands must ensure their presence not simply on today's leading platforms but on tomorrow's as well. With the number of new platforms and devices available still growing, future proofing development can be a massive hurdle. Overcoming that hurdle involves finding solutions where app developers don't need to build to the different specifications of every device.

Technology now exists, like the TV App Engine, which provides that solution. Using a single source code to create apps across multiple platforms, the challenge is now no longer the complexity of the market but how to create the best - and the most engaging - content.

By using an engine which can use a single source code to create apps across multiple platforms, it can cut development and maintenance time by a factor of five. That means saving up to 80% of time and budget on developing and maintaining a series of apps that can work on every connected TV device.

The reality is that combining multiple-screen connections into one device stream is revolutionising media consumption.  We recognise that brands want the best experience for customers across as many devices as possible, but without dissipating their focus.

Brands need to focus on creating the best content that they can, instead of wasting resources on creating innumerable different apps. The reach and breadth of the TV App Engine is a one-stop shop to take any brand out to the market as a whole. By accelerating that route to market, we help support growth of the market as a whole.

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