As the digital age gives rise to the growing multitasking phenomenon, viewers’ dual screen-watching habits are giving brands chances to truly engage an audience who want social and entertaining experiences while they watch TV.
The idea of being glued to the TV is becoming outmoded as more people use a tablet computer, laptop or smartphone while they watch their favourite shows. Many brands are already capitalising on the trend by providing extra entertainment to a switched-on audience.
For example, Heineken has produced an app that enables people to play along with football matches as they are broadcast, while ITV and Channel 4 prompt viewers to tweet during reality TV shows The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea respectively.
Another app, Zeebox, is designed as an immersive social TV viewing experience, where people can log in with Facebook or Twitter as they watch a show.
What is notable, according to Neil Mortensen at Thinkbox – the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK – is that dual screening was not created by the media industry.
“It is behaviour that is happening because of the penetration of devices,” he says. Mortensen cites the rise of smartphones, laptops and tablets as the key driver for dual screening.
“The behaviour has been driven by people. It is not as though media companies or broadcasters have built something.”
Heineken’s activity around the UEFA Champions’ League has been widely reported as the first dual screen campaign. The beer brand created a real-time football app that enabled viewers of the match on TV to play along in a live experience game that was tailored to the real event. Players could win points and share their successes via social media.
Paul Smailes, digital manager at Heineken Global, says he was confident of its success because of the vast number of people who are watching TV while fiddling with their phones.
“There was a lot of confidence within the team that the app would be picked up because of the research and trends that had been identified.
“Even when people are watching TV, they are using their mobiles and multitasking, either with something related to the TV content, checking into social networks or getting other pieces of information.”
Smailes says the purpose of the Heineken app was to create “an engaging platform that would add genuine value to fans and strengthen equity and brand associations for Heineken and its association with the Champions League”.
Other brands have also picked up on the multitasking phenomenon. When TV channel E4 noticed that viewers were tweeting while watching The Only Way is Essex, it encouraged them to use specific hashtags. The show accumulated around 50,000 tweets in the first two weeks of October, according to monitoring company Brandwatch.
Last month, Mercedes-Benz tapped into the tweeting trend by allowing people to decide the storyline of its ads for the new A-Class car. At the end of the first 60-second TV spot, which launched during a break in The X Factor, it invited viewers to choose what happened next via Twitter using the hashtag #youdrive. The selected ending was then added to the first ad and aired the next day during the same programme.
Grolsch also ran a campaign involving audience participation, using an incentive-based scheme. The interactive video and mobile experience encouraged consumers to text a virtual character named Journt, who was ‘apprehending felons’ at a bar. He puts his business card on the counter and a voiceover invites viewers to text in with their name, which is then shown live in the video. Journt replies via text to say either that he recognises the name or that he does not remember the viewer and to try again. If Journt recognises the name, he says he will buy the person a Grolsch and he or she is sent a digital voucher.
Despite its engagement potential, dual screen activity also presents brands with challenges. Phuong Nguyen, head of eBay advertising in the UK, says: “Dual screening audiences are multitasking and not giving their full attention to any one medium, so campaigns need to be more sophisticated and creative to engage this new breed of consumers.”
Multi-screen behaviour becomes more advanced with the number of devices people own, according to research from Intersperience. It reveals that 28 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed say their focus is constantly divided between all devices. A third often switch between devices and 36 per cent focus on one device at all times and ignore others.
This kind of multitasking is more popular with younger groups, with 39 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds dividing their attention between their phone, TV or tablet, so getting the type of programme right for the target audience is vital.
Smailes at Heineken says: “The type of programme is critical. Many broadcasters and brands are struggling to get the right balance because you need to have programming that is suitable for dual screening engagement.”
Zeebox’s chief of product and content, Simon Miller, says interaction must be encouraged in a way that fits seamlessly with the TV programme’s content.
“Really contextual advertising works because it doesn’t feel intrusive and because the opportunity to get more information, or even to transact, is provided at exactly the right moment.”
Zeebox aims to ‘wrap’ advertisers around the kinds of experience that users want on the second screen, offering experiences presented by sponsors that wouldn’t have existed without brand involvement.
Dual screening can also make a network more accessible for viewers. Discovery Networks International launched a dual screen social TV app to help create an emotional connection between viewers and programmes, as well as providing a promotional platform for partners and advertisers, according to Dave Schafer, vice president of international digital media at Discovery Networks International.
“We wanted to create a highly emotive environment, where consumers could connect with our great stories and authentic characters, giving them space for a ‘deeper dive’ experience.”
Schafer adds: “Providing a dual screen catch-up application is another way to use new technology to meet the needs of our audience. Our viewers will have an opportunity to view our shows on iPhone, iPad and TV via AirPlay [wireless streaming technology].”
One example is Olympic athlete James Cracknell’s endurance trilogy, shown on Discovery UK, in which he walked, swam and cycled across the US. Viewers could tweet Cracknell directly and he would respond.
Encouraging consumers to use social media while watching TV is not the only way brands and companies can capitalise on the dual screening trend. An episode of BBC Two show The Great British Bake Off produced a 100 per cent uplift in sales on eBay of pie ‘dollies’, used for making pork pies, and when feather earrings appeared on The X Factor, eBay searches increased by 1,400 per cent.
In response, eBay in the US has launched an app to enable people to shop for items they have seen on TV shows. When viewers tell the Watch With eBay app what they are watching, it generates related items that are on sale on eBay across a number of programmes, including sports, drama, reality TV and sitcoms.
Microsoft has also launched new technology to capitalise on the multitasking phenomenon. The SmartGlass app for the Xbox 360 allows devices running on Microsoft’s operating system to interact, creating a second screen for a Windows phone, laptop or tablet. It enables the user to control their console as well as sending the second screen device unique content about what is being watched, listened to or played on the console.
The Internet Advertising Bureau’s Alex Kozloff says: “For the first time, TV advertising can become a direct response mechanism. Previously, if you wanted viewers to do something through TV advertising, you would go into a shop, but now there is a really good opportunity for brands to use above-the-line advertising to get people to do something right now.”
Kozloff adds: “Most of the time, when when people are using their tablet, they also have the TV on – the figure is 51 per cent, according to our research – and that is now, so what are they going to be like in the future?”
Trials of dual screening will continue, and as Simon Miller at Zeebox says: “Technologically, the connectivity is there. Creatively, the industry still needs to nail the set of experiences that will deliver mass adoption.”
Digital manager, Heineken Global
The number-one tip is to ensure that a brand is enhancing the experience and not interrupting it. You have to think really carefully about how the content that is being played on the television screen ties in with what you are providing on the mobile device and ensure one is not detracting from the other.
Research and planning director, Thinkbox
Make sure you fit in with the natural rhythm of the consumer. It has to be a logical extension of something people are doing already. I don’t think it should jar with the normal relationship people have in a lounge and with the television.
Head of eBay advertising in the UK
Brands must ensure that their engagement with consumers across these multiple channels – whether it is a TV ad or a display ad on an ecommerce site – is consistent and creates a seamless shopping experience. Otherwise, they risk losing consumers along the way.
Q&A: Simon Miller, Zeebox
Marketing Week (MW): Why do you think there is increased interest in dual screening?
Simon Miller (SM): The reality is that people have been interested in dual screening for a good while, voting for talent shows, texting each other while watching the same show and going to Wikipedia to find out what other shows an actor has been in. So really the excitement is about Zeebox and other technologies making these user experiences better.
MW: How have you seen dual screening develop in the UK since your launch?
SM: This has been the year when the TV industry took dual screening seriously. There’s a great deal of hype and expectation, partly because there are so many interested parties and partly because there really is so much opportunity, creatively and commercially, when you mash TV and the internet together. That promise will unfold as the ‘second industry’ experiments and matures. Technologically, the connectivity is there. Creatively, the industry still needs to nail the set of experiences that will deliver mass adoption.
MW: You launched in the US at the end of September 2012. What response do you predict?
MW: Which brands do you think are making the most of dual screening?
SM: We conducted a number of trials across the summer in the UK with [the 20th Century Fox movie] Prometheus, Budweiser, Samsung, BP and Universal Music. We’re all learning what works best, but the key is context. Really contextual advertising works because it doesn’t feel intrusive, and because the opportunity to get more information or even to transact is provided at exactly the right moment. Eurovision with Samsung was great, as was the Olympics with BP.
NMA explains: Dual screening
For years, the concept of mobile marketing has baffled brands and agencies alike, with many left asking the question: “Where does it fit into the media mix?”
However, as the quality of smartphone devices has improved and the fast-emerging tablet market takes off, consumer behaviour has provided the answer: dual screening.
Such devices are commonly referred to as ‘companion devices’ and can be used to augment TV campaigns. This can be done through cleverly timed ad placements on mobile devices – for example, within a TV show’s mobile app during a broadcast.
More subtle integration via platforms such as Zeebox is also emerging. I’d argue that marketing via dual screening is probably the next big opportunity for TV advertising.