Remember Carnac the Magnificent, one of Johnny Carson’s most famous characters? He’d hold a “hermetically sealed” envelope to his forehead and before ever opening it, he’d spit out an answer to the unknown question it contained. The answers were always pretty straight forward, so the comedy came when he revealed the wacky question. One of Carnac’s answers might contain three seemingly unrelated topics, which is why he jumped right to mind when writing this post about mobile phones, primetime TV and domain names.
What do those three things have in common? Thanks to the mobile ad network Tremor Video, we have an answer.
I recently came across some research that Tremor did over the summer in order to gain insight into mobile phone and tablet usage at different times throughout the day. The main findings revealed that mobile browsing peaks at two periods throughout the day: in the late afternoon – likely when people are wrapping up their day at school or work and planning their evening – and again during TV’s primetime viewing hours.
What’s even more interesting is that Tremor drilled down into the usage data to plot it against the times when TV commercials air in primetime. Take a look at the chart below in which the vertical lines represent times that ads are airing and the red line shows “ad calls” to the Tremor network – in other words, times when people are using their mobile devices. It’s pretty clear that people pick up their phones and tablets during commercial breaks and give it a rest when the show they’re watching returns.
The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD blog covered this research with a post that was cleverly titled, “And Now a Word From Our Sponsors: Please Don’t Pick Up Your iPhone!” As the piece points out, Tremor’s takeaway is that people are tuning out TV ads in favor of the mobile Web as they sit on their couch with iPhone or iPad in hand. That’s not a surprising message coming from a mobile ad network, but most practical marketers would agree that these two forms of advertising are hugely effective in their own ways. In fact, with Tremor’s research in mind, why not use one to complement the other?
If you know people are turning to the mobile web when watching TV commercials, embrace it. By making sure to include a domain name on screen, you can turn TV ads into an active experience where people can engage with your brand.
To get the most out of this strategy and ensure success, there are a few things to consider. The first one is picking the right domain. You could use the main corporate domain for your company, create a custom domain that’s associated with the focus of your ad campaign, or get even more sophisticated by picking a mobile-friendly URL or “domain hack.” A mobile friendly URL is basically one that’s short. When typing away on a virtual keypad that’s displayed on a four inch screen, fewer keystrokes are always better. You can make things easier for your audience by selecting the shortest domain possible, and there are great alternatives to the traditional domain extensions that will allow you to do this. For example .co is a great alternative to .com – it’s already one character shorter, and there is a greater choice of affordable .co domains available. In a similar vein, you can use alternative extensions to create a domain hack. If you spend any time on Twitter, you’ve seen hacks before. It’s when the letters to the left and right of the dot combine to form a word. For example, type ToysR.us into your browser’s address bar – guess what comes up? If you’re browsing on a mobile phone, you just saved three characters by avoiding the “.com” when every stroke counts.
There are nearly limitless options when considering a domain to use, and just as many reasons to avoid advertising a social networking site in your TV ads. While places like Facebook and Twitter are reaping tremendous benefits for some brands when used in the proper context, your domain is your home. It’s the only place online that you own and will always control 100 percent. You’re giving up a lot of control by driving people to social networking profile pages or to platforms that could change tomorrow. Consider driving people to your domain first, and from there you can point them to social networking sites.
If you want to take this strategy one step further, you could even create mobile-friendly websites as landing pages for the domains you use in TV ads. This could help engage with the audience even more.
This is much more practical advice than Carnac the Magnificent would ever offer, but then again, mobile phones and domain names weren’t exactly hot topics when he ruled the airwaves. If you’re looking for a few laughs, dial-up some old episodes of The Tonight Show; if you want to improve your integrated marketing, this should do the trick.