Remember way back, say around Super Bowl XLII (for those non-Romans, that was a few years back when the Patriots last faced the Giants).  Social TV and mobile-based tablets apps were just a figment of someone’s (Steve Jobs’?) imagination.  Sure, there have been forums, bulletin boards and chat rooms but nothing like the preponderance of second screen apps and websites we have today.  If you wanted to talk about the show you were watching or the game that was on, you either picked up your telephone or most likely, discussed it at work the next day.  ‘Real life’ (remember that) water cooler conversations typically happened somewhere near the proverbial refreshment stand.

Live TV also looked like a thing of the past.  What’s the difference when you watched something if you weren’t going to delve into it til the next day, or after the weekend.  Timeshifting was going to rule, DVRs would be everywhere and commercials, well, they were going to become a quaint idea.

Today, with the explosion of Twitter usage, social TV app launches and seemingly a tablet in every lap / smartphone in every hand, the water cooler has moved online.  For any big TV event and an increasing number of shows, you run a huge risk of not participating in the online conversation.  Waiting until tomorrow to discuss is to late, and not watching live likely puts you in an online spoiler minefield.  Tread at your own peril.

With a number of major TV events coming up over the first part of this year, like the Super Bowl, Grammy’s, Oscars, Final Four, and later TV finales like American Idol and this summer’s Olympics, it’s time for social TV to shine.  There’s been a lot of development over the last year from both independent firms and networks/cable channels building out their TV companion experiences – along with a lot of venture $$$ – that should be in a position to capture the increasing demand from viewers for an instant, online conversation locale.  These big events are extraordinarily well suited for all these social TV apps.  Most apps should be able to take advantage of their most important missing ingredient: volume.  People are talking online and with all the chatter that these events will drive, those apps that have positioned themselves and built engaging experiences should begin to stand out from the pack.

An important result from the preponderance of apps and their growing audience is the increased interest from national brands doing TV advertising.  More brands are looking to engage with these audiences and test out the best way to reach them.  In fact, analysts from Forrester recently reported specifically on the importance of the second screen and recommended testing interactive marketing opportunities there to make the most of TV buys.

Some brands are doing just that.  A number of innovative Super Bowl advertisers are complementing their multimillion dollar buys during the game by running our Sync Ads across a number of mobile and web companion experiences.  More details on this initiative may be found on our company blog.

No matter who you’re rooting for this Sunday, we’ll see you, and likely a lot of your friends, online!