Blurred Lines: Combining the First and Second Screens


ADOTAS — Television has long dominated the world of consumer advertising. That dominance has resulted in every other screen – computer, smartphone or tablet – fighting to be recognized as the second screen.

Thanks to the proliferation of new devices, the second screen has emerged as a significant element in the media landscape, with multiscreen viewing quickly becoming standard. Social media has become a central element of everything from the latest episode of “The Bachelor” to the President’s State of the Union speech. As a result, broadcasters and marketers are looking to the second screen as a new channel to engage their audiences and provide a more engaging experience for their consumers.

In virtually every case, however, the second screen is expected to stay in its place – making TV even more relevant and rewarding. Social media enables real time conversations about programming, show-specific apps provide details on characters and backstories and networks offer streaming services that let you watch content on the go. All bow before the great and powerful screen of screens!

Of course for many, the mobile screen isn’t the second screen at all. For app developers the mobile screen – whether a smartphone or a tablet – is the screen that matters most. And clearly it isn’t some quaint little backwater. It’s a multibillion-dollar empire that is growing larger and more powerful every day. It’s an empire that’s fueled by the instant-gratification app ecosystem that allows successful marketers to drive downloads through effective performance campaigns.

Television has clearly figured out how to use mobile’s capabilities to enhance the viewer experience. Is there a way for marketers to take advantage of television’s tremendous strengths: reach, impact and presence to name a few – to enhance the mobile experience? The short answer is yes but it requires some explanation.

There is a tremendous – but untapped – opportunity to leverage the traditional broadcast channel to drive action and engagement on the mobile channel. Unfortunately, while TV is great for a lot of things, driving measurable action isn’t usually one of them. Brand? You bet. Direct response? Not so much. For app marketers who live or die by performance this is a problem, but it doesn’t have to be one.

While there is no way to directly measure the actual impact of a typical brand-focused TV commercial, connecting campaigns with mobile provides a means to bring performance to television. Through the use of keywords and shortcodes, for example, viewers can send a SMS message in response to a call to action (text ‘game’ to ‘5555’ for instant download) included in a commercial and a measurable link has been created. (This is the approach supported by ActivateTV.) This model is especially effective for app publishers because it brings viewers directly to the download page on iTunes or Google Play.

Whether delivered by a URL or SMS, approaches like this provide a way to attribute a specific consumer action to a specific TV advertisement. This turns the traditional TV model upside down, leveraging the channel to drive measurable and attributable actions for direct response rather than brand advertising.

By combining the reach of a television advertisement with the performance and measurement of digital, app marketers have a powerful addition to the marketing mix. In today’s multi-screen world, leveraging television for direct response marketing is a powerful new tool for game and app developers, as well as brands seeking to engage with consumers on mobile. Traditional brand advertisement on TV isn’t going anywhere – but new technology and forward thinking mobile marketers are rethinking the connection between mobile and TV to powerful effect.



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