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Social & The 2nd Screen: The Future of Social Advertising

From idiot box to a screen for social engagement, by 2020, iMedia Connection predicts that Social TV will be an $8-$12 billion business. And, while there’s no question that our TV viewing habits have changed in the last 20 years with the laptop, smartphone, and tablet revolution, many might be surprised to discover that we now watch TV, on average, about an hour more a day than we used to. The difference is how that viewing behavior has changed. No longer are we fully immersed in what we’re watching; we’re now posting status updates on Facebook, texting friends, and searching for new kicks on Google, all while watching TV. In short, device fragmentation and the near ubiquitous nature of these connected devices means that we’re not in deep focus the way we once may have been. For example, studies by Cornell demonstrate that the presence of laptops in the classroom have, in at least two studies, shown that students performing multiple tasks performed significantly poorer on immediate measures of memory for the to-be-learned content.

Therefore, when examining the nature of the 2nd screen and the evolving nature of viewing behavior, social TV, and advertising, there’s a delicate, yet fascinating balancing act taking place between engagement, distraction, and purchasing behavior. To wit, here are some interesting second screen statistics:

  • 60% of viewers reported social disruption when trying to utilize second screen synced advertisements
  • 40% claimed that deep engagement with a second screen advertising unit shifted focus away from the primary screen placement
  • 70% mentioned operational difficulties and confusion when trying to utilize synced advertisements across devices
  • 80% felt that they derived value from content that synced related programming information within their second screen device providing for deeper levels of engagement

There was also a widespread acceptance and deeper engagement found for ads that rewarded their viewers with specific incentives.

Recent examples of 2nd screen interactions include:

Last month’s release of ACTIV8’s Celebrity Apprentice App. Forging an agreement to develop second-screen content for Burnett’s shows like “Survivor” and “The Voice”, this app integrates with commercials so, while watching a car commercial on the first screen, your iPad will have a deep dive experience coinciding with the 1st screen. Preventing users from skipping ads, the app offers exclusive content, celeb info, and games where users can win prizes. However, some critics weren’t as impressed with the app’s social features.  As Chuck Parker in Thoughts on the Digital Video Space explains, “The UI looked like a screen scrape of a Twitter screen (as did the Facebook feed).  The Social Buddy feature was a mystery, with a stranger UI (in Twitter).”

Monty Python Holy Book of Days,’ by Melcher Media, took a slightly different second screen approach. A behind-the-scenes interactive story for the Python purist, users can watch never-before-seen footage, listen to a soundtrack, and read anecdotes. For those watching Monty Python and The Holy Grail on Blu-ray, the iPad will sync up scene-by-scene and offer content like the FA Cup Final that the cast listened to in between fights. The app also turns into a basic controller for the Blu-ray player. Although purchasing Monty Python paraphernalia isn’t incorporated into this app, this is the logical next step for advertisers, like those during the Super Bowl where Coca-Cola dedicated a website to CGI polar bears who can watch and react to the game in real time. Meanwhile, although half of the ads of this year’s Super Bowl featured hashtags and associated contests like Audi’s #Progressis (unlike zero compared to last year), the social networking aspect of the 2nd screen could benefit from being more deeply connecting to on-demand offerings like Netflix with social networks like Facebook. As TV ad revenues shift, Informa also recommends that programmers “build viable social TV ad models that work off of the main TV display. The second screen is where advertisers can more precisely target and segment the TV audience.”

Other social apps that continue to gain momentum include Get Glue, one of the most popular social TV apps, providing users the opportunity to check-in, share entertainment, get personalized viewing guides based on taste and community trends, chat with friends and fans, and unlock rewards. This app made “Mad Men” the second most social TV show of 2012 by providing the platform for fans to express their anticipation. It joins Peel to bring social activity and interactivity to the tube. Peel syncs with reality TV so that when contestants perform or judges lay down the law their photo is featured above a bar that records audience sentiment – negative or positive. During the performance, viewers can continually tap each button to affect the overall registered sentiment. A leaderboard then displays the final results.

What do we think is the future of social and the 2nd screen?

In addition to entertainment companies like Disney dedicating an entire website to second screen content for Bambi lovers, TV advertisers can expect sales to grow for 2nd screen purchasers. Although making TV ads interactive in the past has failed, Zeebox is an app with a “click-to-buy” function where, as an ad appears on the TV screen, a “click-to-buy” button pops up on Zeebox’s real-time screen. Clicking this button takes the viewer to a web retailer that sells the item or directly to the brand’s website. The emergence of Shazam, Yahoo’s IntoNow, and products like WiO, which enable users to immediately get information about the products and services they see advertised on screen (both in commercials and within the shows), also allow marketers to offer a variety of follow-up actions to the TV viewer including coupons.

Whether socially disruptive or causing individuals to lack engagement with the 1st screen ad, the balance between TV content and companion content is one that marketers will have to get right, particularly given that we are already distracted by our connected devices and there is a greater ability to engage for a longer period of time on that 2nd screen.