The Dual Screening Experience

The TV industry is constantly adapting to keep up with advancing technology. As having multiple screening devices has become the norm, production companies are finding creative ways to tap into the dual screening experience.

Social media is the be-all and end-all of the dual screening experience. TV Shows like ABC’s “Pretty Little Liars” are taking advantage of the younger population’s attachment to social media platforms like Twitter and communicating with them throughout the show. In fact, Twitter reports that, “Pretty Little Liars” is a record breaking show in terms of its ability to create hysteria amongst its fans on Twitter. The show builds anticipation prior to episodes by tweeting out sneak peeks, and actors often tweet out their reactions during the show with the intention of getting other people’s responses. (There’s also the added advantage of having the most loyal and involved fanbase – teenage girls).

Other TV programs may not have the instant fanbase that “Pretty Little Liars” has been able to generate, but they are finding innovative ways to connect on more than one screen with their audience.The Tony Awards has mastered the “second screen” experience the last two years. They provide exclusive content that is made available as the show progresses. This means the backstage photo of Hugh Jackman everyone’s dying to see is made available seconds after it’s taken, and any trivia related to an actor or award is revealed as it becomes relevant to the show.Providing interactive content keeps the audience more intensely engaged (especially during those acceptance speeches that are just long enough they’re boring).

Another fantastic example of creating an immersive second screen experience is AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” While you watch the show on TV, you can be on their dedicated show website that follows along with each episode. There are prediction polls, judgment polls, pictures, trivia questions, and yes, even advertisements. The ads are inserted in the story sync, making them match the flow of the story rather than interrupt the story.

Formatting advertisements that are consistent with the cross-channel world is tricky business. Until the age of online screening companies like Netflix and Hulu, audiences watched the majority of their TV in the living room and were exposed to advertisements during commercial breaks. Online streaming companies put a wedge between the ad and the TV watching audience for a while and up until recently, desktop-streaming was king. Now, what were initially desktop-friendly streaming companies (Netflix and Hulu) have become destinations for the binge-TV watching audience. More than half of television’s viewers are back in the living room, watching their favorite TV shows on the screen – except this time the viewers have multiple devices on hand.

It’s worthwhile for marketers to create advertisements targeted at the multi screen audience – especially because viewers tend to turn their attention to their smartphone or tablet during commercial breaks rather than during the program itself.

What good will airing a Coca-Cola ad during a commercial break do if a viewer is tuned into their smartphone or tablet during the break, participating in the Twitter hysteria, or playing an interactive game on the show’s website? Or even worse – imagine a viewer actually pays attention to the Coca-Cola ad during the commercial break, and then switches on their tablet, only to get plummeted with a montage of Pepsi-related ads?

But marketers are figuring out how to reach their audience. Kia’s “Game On” interactive app allowed viewers to return a live serve by using their smartphone as a racquet, and last year, Clorox partnered with Viggle to offer live trivia and games to Bachelorette viewers.

Advertisement companies are also finding creative ways to bridge the gap between the first and second screen. The German cross-screen advertising company, wywy, has designed applications that can detect what ads a viewer is watching on their TV screen, and deliver the tablet friendly version of whatever ad is playing in real time to viewers’ second screens. (It’s kind of similar to how Facebook delivers ads corresponding to the things that you “like” on the site?) This is the same concept. wywy is also able to synchronize ad content set to play when a TV show airs to the show’s website for a short amount of time.

Brand consistency is key, and advertisement consistency is part of what makes creating an effective brand in the cross-channel world so difficult for even the best marketers. Good marketing in the cross-channel world ensures that viewers don’t get confused, which ultimately makes for a better screening experience.

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