It's become clear to marketers that DVRs are cutting into the attention that audiences are giving to TV ads: When the audience time shifts, they fast forward through the ads.
Furthermore, the audience is increasingly using a second screen while watching TV.
These new behaviors are causing many advertisers sleepless nights.
But, as reported by Lucas Shaw in a piece for The Wrap entitled Bravo Report: How Networks, Advertisers Can Turn Smartphones, Tablets Into Profit, some advertisers and TV networks are beginning to find faint glimmers of opportunity in the changing world of TV consumption.
For example, on Monday Oct. 1st, 2012, Bravo released data from a study showing that "live TV viewers" - and by that, Bravo apparently means viewers who are consuming TV in the Old World one-screen-at-a-time way - register 37 percent awareness of TV ads (i.e., surveys show they recognize an ad after seeing it).
The bad news?
DVR viewers only score 21 percent awareness.
That's really very bad news for traditional advertisers and broadcasters - because more and more users are buying DVRs and time shifting.
Why should Bravo's advertisers keep paying the same rates when the still growing DVR audience is only roughly half as aware of the ad that just played?
The good news?
As Lucas Shaw reported in The Wrap, "DVR viewers who are exposed to the same ads from TV on a second screen register 33 percent awareness of the ads."
In other words, hitting the viewer with the same ad on the second screen measurably increases awareness.
So a good second screen campaign can get an advertiser's "awareness" numbers back up.
And, if it's possible to get much of the impact of a traditional TV ad simply by putting the same ad (or a similar ad?) on the second screen, the market for advertising might actually be expanding.
In other words, Bravo can charge once for a TV ad and then charge a second time for an ad that will play on Bravo's web platform and show up on a user's second screen.
This possibility - of a whole new revenue stream - has spurred Bravo to begin experimenting with the creation of web-based content that supports the shows they're already airing.
As reported by Olivia Roat in a July 6, 2012 post to B2C, "Bravo Television is arguably the most social-media-savvy network on television. Fans of Bravo shows such as the Real Housewives franchise and the cook-off show Around the World in 80 Plates don’t just watch these shows; they participate in them. Bravo has created a social media campaign [primarily on Twitter] that has turned traditional television on its head by allowing viewers to transform from passive spectators into active contributors." Up until now, this has generally meant live tweeting with characters from reality shows and offering giveaways to cultivate fan participation.
While consumers may not want to be bombarded with ads on Twitter or Facebook - a cool app or web-experience could become another way of reinforcing ad messages.
This idea - of an app or platform that offers more than Twitter or Facebook - is especially attractive to advertisers because mobile devices are increasingly being used by consumers to buy stuff.
This "retail portal" function of the second screen suggests Bravo (and other networks) might really begin raking in revenue - if their apps and/or web experiences can be optimized for e-commerce.
It's very early in the game - and no one can say for sure how this will play out - but a large chunk of the future of TV revenue may depend on finding clever ways of placing clickable links (that lead to e-commerce) into the second screen.
Here are some additional insights from the Bravo's early research into how to make effective use of the second screen phenomenon:
"Networks have experimented with a bevy of approaches with their TV companion apps, but the research suggests that during a show users mostly want to interact with friends watching, interact with the show itself or express an opinion about it... When asked what they’d want to do an a phone or tablet while watching TV, 45 percent said interact with the show, 42 percent said connect to social networks and 41 percent said influence the outcome of the show. That means tweeting, voting and other interactive activity -- not extra information. Those apps offering cast profiles or IMDb pages should assume users will do that before or after a show, not during."
As part of their experimentation into this new way of interacting with TV, The Wrap reports that "Bravo is about to launch Play Along, which will enable viewers to vote on things happening on the show in front of them. They can select which housewife is the cattiest or which chef is most likely to win the challenge."