Back in 1999, the future of interactive TV was what is now called dualor two-screening, with people interacting with their TV via their PC. The idea was soon overtaken by red button interactive TV but now, thanks to cheap laptops and the rise of social media, dual-screening is back on the agenda.
According to recent research by TV marketing body Thinkbox, 60% of people claim to watch TV and go online concurrently two or three times a week, while 37% claim to do so every day.
“Dual-screening is very significant,” says Rachel Bristow, Unilever media director for the UK and Ireland. “We’re seeing consumers watching live content, then having conversations about it with their friends via social media. And brands have the opportunity to be part of that conversation.”
But advertisers need to look carefully at the numbers being claimed for this emerging sector, warns Nigel Walley, managing director of media strategy consultancy Decipher.
“We define three ways in which people use TV and the internet together. There’s co-incident usage, where people are looking at something on their laptop that’s not related to what’s on TV. As far as advertisers are concerned, that’s the same as someone reading the paper. Then there are people using the laptop for something related to the TV show but not in sync with it, such as visiting a brand’s social media site.
Sixty per cent of people say they watch TV and go online concurrently two or three times a week, while 37% claim to do so every day
“And then there’s the stuff that’s deeply synchronised with the programme stream, such as people playing along with [Channel 4 game show] Million Pound Drop. This synchronous use is what’s really interesting to advertisers, but it’s a tiny percentage of the total number of people who are dual-screening.”
Brands are already trying to take advantage of Walley’s latter two types of dual-screen behaviour. Yeo Valley’s rapping farmers TV ad last year drove traffic to the brand’s social media pages. This month, Domino’s Pizza has begun sponsoring Simon Cowell’s new TV game show, Red or Black? a tie-up that involves TV and online advertising, an online game and prompts within the play-along game on itv.com.
Yeo Valley wanted to make organic food available to everyone, which meant appealing to a mainstream audience. Along with agency BBH, it aimed to change attitudes to an organic brand and create a perception of Yeo Valley as open and populist. This led it to use social media, where the goal was to drive newsletter sign-ups to encourage customers into conversations with the brand.
Meanwhile, Unilever’s Lipton Iced Tea ran break bumpers in Britain’s Got Talent on TV, with ads on Facebook at the same time, a poll and engagement ads in newsfeeds to drive product awareness. Success was measured in terms of engagement people ’liking’ the brand on Facebook or entering the poll.
“Where we have the right sort of content, we’re interconnecting TV and the web,” Unilever’s Bristow explains. “We’re not in social media for the sake of it, but we’re very aware of paid media driving traffic through to earned media. We look to all our offline media to drive through to online. There’s a lot of signposting for consumers to go to Facebook or the website. Then, depending on the brand, we’ll have an interactive conversation.
“Big FMCG owners with lots of different brands will deploy a variety of strategies. What we’re doing with Lynx, for example, is different from what we’re doing with Lipton.”
For Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino’s, the impetus behind expanding its sponsorship model into the social space is a desire to engage further with customers.
“We’re still putting a large emphasis on the idents around Red or Black?,” he says. “But we realise people are viewing these properties on platforms aside from their main TV. We wanted to see how we could capitalise on that, and on media innovations.”
Part of Domino’s aim is to convert viewers and players into people who buy its pizza. Wallis says this is why Domino’s has always sponsored programmes that coincide with times when people are likely to buy takeaway. But social media allows it to go further.
“Previously with our sponsorship deals, we’d look at sales first, then audiences, and do research into brand metrics,” Wallis explains. “This time, we’ve got metrics for the number of people directed to the itv.com competition, people actively using our Facebook page and entering the competition, hours of engagement with the game and so on. Everyone entering the game on itv.com will get a coupon from us, while the winners will get a different deal. We’ve got a much greater opportunity to engage with customers and encourage purchase.”
Results so far have shown the value of combining TV and social media. Yeo Valley saw a 15% uplift in sales and a 71% increase in share of voice, and the brand and agency are planning further game-based activity for this autumn.
For Bristow, a key reason the Lipton work succeeded was the co-operation between TV and online teams at Unilever’s media agency, Mindshare: “We have a connection architecture that makes us think how things link together. Team structures and locations help enormously.”
Another key issue is the nature of the TV content and the need for it to be live. One conclusion drawn from the Lipton activity is that the programming needs to be close to reality, and not demand too much attention, so it can generate discussion and allow space for that to take place. So sport and reality TV will work, but drama probably won’t.
Bristow adds: “The challenge for marketers is to make sure that, where there is really good TV content, you also have a highly engaging digital footprint so that people can find you.”
Walley agrees that advertisers need to think carefully about the type of content with which people will engage. “The question is what does the creative need to do?” he says. “Yeo Valley broke all the rules, because the creative was strong enough to drive traffic online. Now it’s a question of which advertisers can generate content that will drive people to the second screen. Car brands? Holiday companies?”
While dual-screening has arisen from a number of trends, a more formal version is on the horizon in the form of connected TVs from the major electronics manufacturers. But opinion is divided over whether combining TV and internet in one device will appeal to viewers.
“Last year, we were excited about integrated TV,” says Domino’s Wallis. “But TV is a shared experience and there will always be a problem if you encroach on that, for example by trying to order pizza [on the same screen]. It’s much easier to order from a laptop, so our strategy has been to develop apps for the iPhone, Android and iPad. We wouldn’t have gone for an integrated TV app before all of those. So we have still got a watching brief on integrated TV.”
Bristow too is sceptical. “I think consumers are more comfortable with two screens, rather than two-screen on the TV. As we reach the point where the only phones available are smartphones, people will become more familiar with using the phone to interact with their TV. People aren’t super-savvy about TV at the moment and that behaviour will take a while to change. The technology will change a lot faster than people’s behaviour will.”