How Should Advertisers Capitalise on the Second Screen?
'Second screening', using a smartphone, tablet or laptop at the same time as watching the TV, isn't new - how long have laptops been around? - but it is something that advertisers are becoming increasingly aware of.So how significant a phemomenon is it? In short, it's big. Depending on which study you chose, around 75-85% of us are using other devices while watching the TV. However, the majority of us are engaged in unrelated tasks - mostly emailing.This begs the question, 'Is the second screen of benefit to advertisers or is it merely distracting people from the beautiful TV ads that brands have created?' We'd argue that it's a benefit, and here's why.Firstly, distracted TV viewing is hardly new. It's just the book, magazine or newspaper being read, or the conversation being had at the same time as TV is increasingly being replaced by activity on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Some consumers may be distracted from viewing ads, but the likelihood is that they're no more distracted than they were in the past.The second point is that the advertiser has more opportunity to influence what the consumer is doing on their second screen than they would have had on traditional 'distraction' activity. Second screening is an opportunity for brands to increase engagement with those seeing their ads.Thirdly, studies do demonstrate that significant proportions of TV viewers are carrying out activities directly related to what they're viewing on TV. Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 are searching for additional information about the show they're watching, about 1/5 are chatting about it on Facebook or Twitter and somewhere between 27% and 44% are searching for products spotted in a show or an ad.And finally, second screen interaction with a brand has a positive impact on brand metrics - a study conducted by Nielsen for mobile video firmAdColony found that TV plus mobile exposure (smartphone or tablet) improved brand recall by 69% and purchase intent by 72%.So now we've established the second screen is a major opportunity for advertisers, how should they capitalise on that opportunity? Let's begin with TV advertisers (although the second screen has big potential for non-advertisers too).The key place to start is getting the basics right. If you advertise on TV, people are going to be researching your product on their tablet, mobile or laptop during that ad and immediately after. You need to make sure you're capitalising on that instantaneous demand. Simple steps such as upweighting search spend, particularly mobile search spend, and sponsoring terms related to the ad should be your first port of call. You might also 'sync' other aspects of your digital campaign to take advantage of second screen activity - for example, social advertising on Facebook and/or Twitter would help reinforce your message amongst those social networking whilst they're viewing.The campaign hashtag is another simple and logical step. It creates a hub for conversations about the ad and your brand on Twitter - conversations which your brand could and should participate in to shape and leverage. And more can be done with it too. In 2012, Audi ran a spot during the Super Bowl in which a group of young vampires partying outdoors at night was incinerated by an Audi's daylight-simulating LED headlights . The hashtag #SoLongVampires was used on Twitter, but not just on Twitter - viewers who entered the hashtag into Google were treated to an ad for Audi’s “Vampire Party” on Facebook.Incorporating mobile specific response mechanisms makes sense as it makes it easier for viewers to find out more about your brand. Waitrose have used augmented reality app Blippar to help viewers access ad related content - in the case of their recent Christmas campaign, a cake decorating tutorial by Delia Smith and an interview with Heston Blumenthal. Perhaps better suited to this purpose is audio recognition app Shazam, which is being used increasingly to help viewers to take the next step to further engagement with ITV advertisers. And marketers shouldn't forget the humble SMS short code which may not be as sophisticated as some of the newer 'kids on the block', but is more 'mass' than any AR or audio watermarking app (we all text.)The next step, in terms of creativity and investment, is to create or sponsor specific second screen content. It's one that blue chip brands are increasingly taking to extend the brand experience beyond the ad and to interweave their content with the viewing experience.For example, Coca-Cola created 'Polar Bowl' to accompany last year's Super Bowl, extending it's animated polar bear ads on to the second screen, so viewers could 'watch' the bears react to the game in real time. In 2011, Honda's animated Jazz hatchback ad enabled viewers who downloaded the related iPhone to “capture” on-screen characters, by physically swiping their phone at the ad, and interact with them —for example, making them dance by singing into an iPhone’s microphone. And this time last year, a trailer for the Ridley Scott film Prometheus rewarded viewers who had used its hashtag #areyouseeingthis by featuring some of those tweets in its next commercial.But leveraging the second screen phenomenon isn't just for TV advertisers. If brands are creating category-related searches as a result of their TV activity, there's no reason why rivals can't benefit by increasing their own digital spend for the duration of the campaign. And if TV shows are creating conversations around topics related to the brand, then the brand should be particpating in those conversations and leveraging them to their advantage. For example EA, the digital games company, has a strategy of leveraging football conversations to maximise it's social buzz. It's #86messi campaign, a giveaway launched off the back of Lionel Messi breaking the 40-year-old record for most goals in a year, reaped the brand more than 50,000 mentions on Twitter.However, before you embark on any second screen activity which requires significant time or investment, there are 3 things you should be aware of. Firstly, is it your target market that will be interacting? For example, according to a recent study by Deloitte/GfK, discussing TV programmes via the second screen while watching them is something popular among the under 34s but pretty rare amongst the 55+s. The programme content may be ideal for your brand but if the audience are wrong, the time spent engaging in those conversations will be largey wasted.Secondly, much second screening happens post viewing. Most want to watch the programme first and then go online to find out more about it and talk about it. It might be best to time your activity as appropriate.And finally, interacting with TV content in real time is still a niche pursuit - and remains a niche pursuit whatever the age of the viewer or their propensity to own a mobile device. Most viewers still prefer to relax and watch rather than get involved - second screen apps developed by broadcasters have yet to take off. Things will no doubt improve but it's no coincidence that much second screen activity is centred around 'blockbuster' TV events like the SuperBowl or the Olympics where audiences are huge and even a small take up can be significant.What does the future hold? Probably more 3rd party apps to connect TV viewers conveniently to advertising related content using technologies like audio watermarking. And, with the increased penetration of internet enabled TVs, second screen content will be increasingly integrated into the 'first screen' as viewers interact direct via their Smart TV. And we'd expect second screen content to get more sophisticated and engaging as advertisers continue to experiment and understand what works for their individual audiences.However, there one thing future trend we're sure about - second screening is something that's here to stay. It can benefit all brands - be they TV advertisers or not. All they need is a coherent strategy and a proactive approach. You don't need to engage in second screen activity - it may not be right for your brand for the reasons discussed - but you do need to appraise it as an opportunity or you may be missing a trick.