Value of TV apps difficult to quantify, for now #AppsWorld

TV apps have a long way to go before they constitute a major channel in the minds of either advertisers or consumers, according to an expert industry panel at Apps World this morning.

The overriding theme of the session, which included representatives from Samsung, Mindshare and the CTVMA, was that TV apps are still very much in the early days.

Jodie McAfee, general manager of Samsung’s Adhum in Europe, said that much of the activity in the field currently was aimed at developer insight into user behaviour. “It’s very important for us to understand how people are using TV apps,” he said.

“In terms of ROI from a marketing perspective, it’s very early days. There isn’t a sufficient volume going through the market yet to decisively say to what extent it can deliver.”

People are buying smart TVs, only to get them home and discover that they’re not that smart at all, compared to their smartphone. “The way smart TV stuff has been brought to market seems to ignore every rule I know as a brand marketer,” said Keith Johnson, UK president of CTVMA. “There’s confusion around the word smart; but I think what we actually need is some smart marketing”

He argued that an innovative approach needs to be taken to deliver a unique connected TV experience, rather than approaching the problem in the tried and tested ways of mobile apps. Currently, the only app that’s really allowed consumers to use their TV in a completely new way is Skype.  

“How do we get advertisers to bring their money into this space?” he asked. “We need to think creatively about providing services that people want. We need to create a market that people can engage with.”

What does seem to be working, according to Jeremy Pounder, business director at Mindshare, is apps that provide video content. “There’s an appetite for video apps,” he said. “It makes sense for these to be on that primary screen.

“However, when content requires greater interaction, like social networking, it makes more sense for these to be on secondary devices,” he added. “People will find recommendations on their small screen companion devices, through Facebook for instance, so it’s going to be critical that the plumbing in smart TVs allows a seamless transition of content between screens, driving discovery and viewing from companion devices.”

Find out more on the future of TV apps at TV Hackfest, at the Moscone Center West, San Francisco on February 7-8.

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