Second screen strategy: planning for (and against) a multi-screen world

Jack Blog

October 13th, 2014 By Jack Morton

Like so many forms of media today, traditional television continues to experience a radical shift in format, monetization model and consumer expectations. Indeed, as many advertisers have begun to return to traditional network and cable programming exiting the Great Recession, they are finding that they are coming back to find a significantly different – more distracted – consumer. In fact, 85% of tablet and smartphone owning consumers now admit that they use their devices while watching traditional television – a behavior broadly referred to as “Second Screen.”

What does that mean to advertisers and marketers? The era of the 30-second spot as the exclusive and an inherently effective form of monetization of television is over. That’s not to say that all is lost or that traditionally television-based linear content isn’t a viable means of communicating with consumers (just look at how Dancing with the Stars engaged the Second Screen last week). It simply means that brands’ abilities to be creative in the way they capture and engage consumers’ attention will be more important than ever. That was the topic of my presentation at the Nordic Media Summitin Copenhagen, Denmark: “Planning for (and Against) the Second Screen: Strategies for a Multi-Screen World.” At the conference, I was joined by speakers from TwitterRogers (Canadian media conglomerate) and TeliaSonera (European and Asian telecommunications provider), all of whom were focused on discussing the future of linear content, consumer behavior and monetization models.

As consumers become increasingly connected to emerging screens, top award-winning TV shows (i.e. Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and soon, Chelsea Handler’s late-night show) no longer even appear on the traditional television channels and are enjoying a new level of creative freedom that come with new platforms. From Netflix to Hulu to HBO GO, it’s no secret that the future holds a significantly more diverse set of providers and screens that consumers will be using to watch linear entertainment. These services are broadly referred to as OTT (Over The Top), which is defined as audio, video, and other media distributed without a multiple-system operator (i.e. a service provider, like Comcast) involved in the control or distribution of that content.

In a world where consumers are watching some content with traditional commercials (with a more interesting screen in their palms), some content with pre-roll or banner monetization and some content completely void of advertiser support, the need for new strategies becomes obvious. Starting with understanding the four archetypal Second Screen behaviors (Real-Time Researching, Situational Socializing, Ongoing Grazing and Great Escaping), I then talked attendees through several strategies and associated case studies of brands planning for and against consumers’ split attention. Examples of brands leveraging these strategies, which are featured in the presentation include: Suits, RuPaul’s Drag Race, American Idol, Cotton Incorporated, Coca-Cola and Disney Films.

How is your brand thinking about consumers’ cross-screen behavior? Do you have strategies in place to suit their divided attention? How are you thinking about measurement and attribution given the increasingly diverse set of touchpoints where you meet consumers?

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