Goldman says that a more social approach to video provides an attractive target for advertisers, who know they can reach engaged users with a common interest. The company plans to extend this vision by starting “celebrity rooms,” where larger audiences can interact in special viewing events hosted by celebrities or bands.
John McCrea, general manager of Tunerfish, says that social Web technologies lend themselves to being integrated with other sites. This helps new sites become part of a social ecosystem by drawing on connections made on other social sites, including Facebook.
Steve Rubel, who watches emerging technologies and trends as senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital, notes that people already talk on Twitter during TV events such as the Soccer World Cup. Rubel believes the trend can definitely benefit advertisers, provided they’re careful to coordinate their social media campaigns with ads they run on social video sites.
But Marie-Jose Montpetit, an invited scientist at MIT’s Research Lab for Electronics who has studied social TV for several years, warns that, while social features can certainly be valuable when integrated with viewing technologies, companies need to remember that users will have different ways of interacting around different types of content. For example, they might love to use voice chat while watching comedy or sports, but could be irritated by it when watching a drama.
Montpetit says companies also have to walk a fine line when trying to create affinities between users. For example, when companies have introduced chat functionality, she says, some users have reacted negatively, saying they don’t care about the opinions of random strangers.
Traditional television poses a different technology challenge for those who want to add social features, Montpetit says. Ultimately, however, she believes users will get the same highly connected social experience as Web video. She believes that users and content creators will eventually stop making strong distinctions between Web content and traditional TV content. “All these screens are becoming the same,” she says.