An Old TV Concept's Importance, Renewed

This story is the third in a five-part series.

Stacey Lynn Schulman

Researcher Stacey Lynn Schulman recently spoke at the Family Friendly Programming Forum, where advertisers discussed the Internet's impact on TV advertising. hide caption

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Five Rules of Engagement

Are you "engaged" with a TV program? These markers measure your involvement.

  1. It is important that you watch the show regularly.
  2. You feel personally involved with the story and the characters.
  3. You talk about the show.
  4. The show makes you think.
  5. The show puts you in a good mood.

We think of television as entertainment, delivering programs to us. The TV business, however, is about delivering us to advertisers. The best predictor of success in this endeavor is engagement.

Engagement — how highly you get involved with a program or Web site once you encounter it — is not a new concept. But as audiences face an ever-widening range of entertainment options, it is a concept that has become crucial to the future of television.

Stacey Lynn Schulman, an audience researcher, says, "One great idea for television is for someone to sponsor programming that captures very engaged fan cultures."

Procter & Gamble, Coke, Company X: this means you. Take some show with a cult following, and keep it going — maybe on the Internet only. Just keep the story alive.

"What you have is a community of folks that are so engaged in that content, and so love it, that these [characters] are part of their lives," Schulman says. "If you, as an advertiser, continue to provide that experience when the distributor drops out, you create an enormous amount of good will."

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