Feb 6, 2012

Don't Make Me Think: Social TV and the Super Bowl

Back in seventh grade, I remember learning about some Renaissance-era British doctor who, in order to study the process of digestion, would swallow food in a linen bag attached to a string that he'd then drag back out of his stomach.

So comparatively, my experience using various social TV apps during the Super Bowl in order to report on them, was relatively painless.

But still.

So few of them were done with any forethought whatsoever. When we are watching TV, it’s generally a pretty immersive experience. We’ll multitask in short bursts, but please do not ask us to decide whether we want it shipped to our home or office, if standard shipping is okay and did we still want to buy it with our American Express card ending in xx-4099?

Here's the deal: E-commerce is best left until the show is over. Ditto getting “more information” on anything. So let me save something for later in a basket, bookcase, coupon book - whatever you want to call it. But don’t make me stop and make decisions I have to think about.

Especially on a tiny smart phone screen. Best Buy had a well-done commercial but the Shazam app took me to a screen that said something about saving money if I upgraded my phone. (There were too many words for me to actually want to try and make sense of it all.) What were they thinking? I’m not going to stop and spend 45 minutes upgrading my phone in the middle of the Super Bowl!

AmEx had something like that with (I think) FourSquare. If I remember, they were giving me 5 dollars off when I spent 10 dollars, but again, the process was way too time-consuming and confusing for me to actually be sure about what had just transpired.

Another note on Shazam-- which advertisers seem to gleefully be using as an audio-based replacement for those RFID tags no one ever figured out how to operate: The commercial starts. It’s 30 seconds long. 2 seconds into it, I see the Shazam logo. I then have 28 seconds to (a) find my phone, (b) turn it on, (c) find the Shazam app, (d) open the app and wait till it loads (e) hit “tag this” (f) wait for the tagging to happen.

That’s pretty ambitious for 28 seconds.

The Takeaway: Keep it simple. Keep the words short and sweet. Ditto the graphics. Tell me exactly what you want me to do and when and how: I'll appreciate both the brevity and the clarity. Save all the heavy lifting for later and make sure it's easy form me to find whatever it is you wanted me to do or look at when I get back to the app

Because I'm watching television. And you're just interrupting.

UPDATE: Check out similar conclusions from Jeremy Toeman at LiveDigitally

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