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A guide to multi-screen marketing

A guide to multi-screen marketing Zach Weiner

When two marketing mediums like TV and digital collide, the result creates deeply exciting implications for marketers on both sides of the spectrum. With that excitement however, also exists a large and growing gap in one hand understanding the other. All too many marketers are buzzing with how they can seamlessly cart their digital marketing campaigns off to the big screen. It is imperative however, to reconsider these initiatives with a more encompassing multi-screen understanding that the world of TV entertainment is just that -- entertainment. Synced second screen advertisements, connected TV advertising inventory, and in-app units are all exceptionally novel television placements that are easily mismanaged and wrongly used.

The greatest gap in knowledge is a very traditional view of the TV experience in a multi-screen and connected world. Digital marketers are too eager to treat television like a personal device and launch campaigns that are living room specific, abide by the rules of traditional screens, and simply push brand messages instead of creating complex engagements. Many brand marketers have heralded recent second screen synced placements as robust solutions with little understanding of the deep consumer behavioral patterns behind this ability and how to activate them for marketing success.

The reality is that no matter how engaged consumers are with screen entertainment, we have digitally evolved. Our collective attention span for content has changed with the ability to demand a myriad of items and activities at any given time. Consumers are not just going to watch TV while engaging a long-form synced activity on their tablet. They are going to shop for clothes online, send texts, check unrelated Facebook statuses, peruse dating sites, check the weather, spell-check their latest article, and moreover engage in all the internet has on tap. TV marketing can no longer be just about ad spots synced or not. To create engagement requires us to provide deep experiences that go beyond all screens while using them as anchors. The second screen can be utilized as a companion that continues to engage far after the programming. The second screen is best activated as the provider of a lifestyle sync, not simply a second screen sync.

Here are some rules should marketers start considering for planning campaigns in a multi-screen world.

Don't be pushy; do create

The traditional 30-second spot still maintains its coveted place. That place however, is dim when comparing the ability of brands to not just become broadcasters, but for them to become the providers of entertainment, creating strong potential for greater lift. A traditional spot is potentially time shifted, ignored or even mindlessly glazed over. The ability for brands however, to create TV apps, engage consumers around games with broadcast interactivity, and create robust utility based applications, means a much longer engagement. It also means an engagement that is not ignored, but actively sought out.

Synced experiences beget synced screens, not the other way around

The second screen and first screen are to be best understood as a time-shifting continuum for their full potential to be actualized. Little benefit is found with an ad placement that mortgages the emotional and immersed big screen experience in favor of the second screen. Many current synced advertising campaigns draw attention away from the big screen. This creates a situation where ad benefits become separated with one being favored over the other. A true multi-screen marketing campaign needs to provide a seamless experience that does not refocus the user on one screen or the other, but necessitates their dual usage in simple ways that sync without a QR-code like effect. 

Second screen experiences are most valuable based on portability

Take advantage of the differing strengths offered by the differing screens. Any marketer can create a multi-screen experience with easy technological implementation. Smart marketers will look into creating multi-location experiences. TV entertainment can maintain its place in the living room, but also be carted outside with the second screen. The ability to bring our digital endeavors truly "outside the box" and into the real world is a strong value statement. The greatest potential of the second screen is not in front of the TV. It's in front of the train after watching TV, it's in the store, on the sidewalk, in the bar, or that friend's apartment. Maybe it's just in the kitchen, but the ability to port a second screen to a differing locale and keep the brand engagement alive is of greater benefit than two screens facing one another.

Don't search out tweets and check-ins

Create the need to converse across formats and groups. Marketers have reason in today's digital ecosystem to place added emphasis on the earned, in the paid-earned-owned equation. One would be hard pressed to ignore the nonstop chatter about the potential of social TV and social companion apps. The highlighted conversations including topics of chatter such as; TV check-ins, Super bowl tweets reaching record high levels, endemic tweets during live broadcasts, and the like. Social TV is not best engaged however, with a strict focus on Twitter and companions. It is best optimized by allowing consumers to interact with both content and a larger digital social circle regardless of the medium. Despite media coverage, tweets and check-ins aren't as important in and of themselves. The focus is to create robust content that is endemically interactive amongst large groups both in person and in screen. Twitter integration is not where the benefit falls, it is social integration in and of itself.

In a constantly changing ecosystem, marketers with a deep understanding of all screens in conjunction with modern consumption patterns will be able to rise above the curve and create compelling brand engagement throughout their digital and television initiatives.

Zach Weiner is founder and CEO of CTV Advertising.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Business hands" image, "Businessman holding a touchpad" image, and "Young pretty woman showing display" image via Shutterstock.

Zachary Weiner is the CEO of Emerging Insider Communications, A boutique PR and Marketing firm focused on the emerging television and advertising industries. He was the founder and a current advisor of CTV Advertising a digital/TV advertising...

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