TV Show Web Marketing

    One of the challenges for web marketing of a TV show, is how much devotion do you put toward the show, versus how much to the network? And by the network, what often means cross-promoting other shows? (Not to mention cross-promoting other TV networks owned by the same broadcast entity or group). Specifically when discussing websites, the typical approach is to build a microsite for a specific show upon the primary domain of the overall network (e.g., ). When going this direction however, what focus and structure should the menu, or primary navigation have? A common issue I see is the TV network’s primary nav on the subdirectory microsite, as opposed to displaying the show’s own primary navigational items. The branding of the microsite is the overall network’s website branding and nav. The specific TV show in question is week, sparse website information, yet you went seeking website information about a show that gets lost in the shuffle of information available about the many other shows the network offers. Resulting in confusion, viewer dissalussionment, lost fans, too much multi-brand noise, and finally a user who goes elsewhere on the web to find, create or collaborate for the information she wants.

    Here are some ways to put it into perspective, for focus points for website architecture, and the valuable metrics behind them:

    1. Build your TV show fans instead of sending them elsewhere. Prize the metric of “time onsite.” If viewers want to interact with your site, let them. Create the blog or forum or commenting to enable them. Then you can advertise your other shows (without overdoing it). Don’t force them away from the show they’re a big fan of.
    2. Give them what they’re looking for. And/or give them the opportunity to collaborate and create the info on your site. Prize metrics of engagement, such as commenting or submissions. I personally am a big fan of “That Metal Show” on VH1 Classic. One of the fun things they do is come up with a “Top 5 List” every show. Such as “Top 5 Metal Album Covers,” “Top 5 Metal Guitarists,” etc. They end every Top 5 list by saying “if you think you can come up with a better list, submit yours to the website…” What a great idea to establish fan engagement! Problem is, I’ve looked for those user-generated lists. I’ve looked hard. I’d like to read them. And argue with them. But I can’t find them on their microsite. A microsite which advertises VH1 Classic and it’s other shows better than the one show I’m a big fan of.
    3. Give viewers a total show experience. Prize the metric of total pages viewed. Video clips are one thing, but there’s more. Tru TV channel made a show, “Motor City Masters.” I’m a fan. I’d swear they say on the show “go to our website to see more car drawings from our contestants and their teams for specific episodes.” I would love to see that. I went to the website. Not only could I not find that, I had a hard time looking for it. Search functionality was for the Tru TV website on whole, revealing listings that were from totally other TV shows. Plus this show’s specific nav seemed to disappear past the microsite’s home page. Again – primary nav was that of the TV network’s primary nav. There were episode photo gallery’s (less than 20 photos total for the entire season), web clips, but not sketches. Even if they hadn’t suggested seeing the car design drawings on the show, I would have searched online – I’m a fan of car illustration and design! And Pinterest? No real presence there for the show. What an opportunity lost for a show’s fans to help promote it!
    4. Build story; the mystique and cult-following around the show. Prize the metric of social share (sharing pages/content to their own social networks). Blair Witch Project. Cloverfield. Lost. Firefly. These are movies and TV shows that achieved a huge social media and viral presence because they were able to build a cult mystique with users. Blair Witch promoted the story that the movie was real and that you had to see it to believe it. Lost fans endlessly discussed details, clues to next episodes and important elements – discussions all about the show online. Make the show more real for fans, and empower them to make it more real for themselves and each other!
    5. Obtain crowd-sourced plot elements. American Idol broke ground by asking for viewer voting over phone texting. Response was unpressedented. Beyond wildest expectations – and set the norm for reality contest shows from that point forward. Doritos tried user-generated TV ads for the Superbowl one year. The response was so huge, and demand so great, that they were forced to bring back the contest a few years later – and every year since.

    All of the above elements should be planned into the show’s website – whether it’s a TV network’s microsite, or it’s own primary domain website, or even a social media page. TV shows are for the viewers and their total experience and engagement. Make that priority 1 – and achieve it in the digital space.