Digital marketers are focusing on how consumers interact with media across multiple screens at the same time. Users plop down on the couch and pick up their laptops, mobile devices or tablets, and ad networks and technology companies are pushing multi-screen ad buys to brands. The problem is, at this point, no one can agree on how many screens advertisers need to consider. Three? Four? Six?
Let’s make it really simple. Marketers looking to align digital and traditional only need to worry about two screens. TV is the obvious first one, but the second “screen” marketers need to utilize isn’t a tablet or a mobile device. It’s social advertising.
In a recent interview, Peter Naylor, NBC’s EVP of digital sales, lamented the fact that the television upfront put TV and digital into separate silos. Naylor and NBC are seeing so much overlap between TV viewing and connected device use that they want to find a marriage that works for advertisers. He didn’t directly say it, but Naylor’s talking about the way consumers are watching TV and interacting with social platforms.
TV viewing is now a far less passive experience, and the rise in tablet sales and connected mobile devices is making it so people are actively diving into the social stream of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ during their viewing time, sharing opinions with their friends and followers.
With consumers simultaneously engaged in both social and TV, the social second screen opens the door for brand marketers to reach consumers in a way that combines both behaviors. The actual device doesn’t really matter, because consumers use the devices to connect to their social network or application of choice.
There are numerous ways marketers can track consumer viewing behavior through social. Twitter updates are public, and it’s relatively easy for marketers to search out hashtags or their program names while a show is airing. Facebook updates are less open, but marketers can still target advertising based on Likes or a friend’s interests. Then there are start-ups that connect consumers with their favorite programs, such as GetGlue, which lets consumers check in to TV programs, movies, and music for possible discounts.
And the ability to know who is talking about what opens the door to plenty of opportunities. For a network like NBC, social suddenly becomes a discovery platform where the network can market new shows, or remind viewers when a new episode airs. With Twitter’s open API, a big network like NBC could build its own software that analyzed what users were talking about, then classify the viewers and sell these audiences to their advertisers.
Consider reality shows, which are exploding with product placement. With a dedicated Twitter analysis, the network can easily identify people talking about the program while it airs and serve ads that combine creative for sponsor brands and the show. We’re talking about cooperative marketing programs for auto manufacturers, CPG, and food brands that can hit several audience buckets and demographics. The best part is that the ads are going to consumers who are already interested.
Thinking about social as the second screen also helps advertisers overcome the problems associated with the rise of DVR usage and cord cutters. Consumers still turn to social networks to discuss the latest episode of Dexter, even if they’re three days behind the show’s original airdate. This mitigates the DVR impact, replaces lost ad opportunities caused by fast-forward, and even creates more advertising opportunities.
TV networks have the resources to build their own social ad networks, but luckily smaller brand advertisers can already buy across networks that sell this type of targeting.
Advertisers can now effectively buy into a true “multi-screen” approach that hits consumers with relevant content on both social and TV. The added bonus is that the social component has a much larger life span. Fans talk about the programming long after the program ends, which means advertisers (or the network itself) can hit their audience again and again.
Jon Elvekrog is CEO of 140 Proof.