Social TV: Turning Distraction into Opportunity

It’s no secret that the “family gathering around the TV set” is a scene of the past. People are increasingly DVRing, watching things when it’s convenient, skipping past commercials. However, there are those opportunities where people still gather to watch live TV – widely-followed shows and contentious sporting events often drive collective “watch-parties”. So, for certain brands, advertising during them is a no brainer, right? Well, yes… and no. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, people distract themselves during commercials, and likely aren’t even watching that ad that cost the brand millions.

But, all is not lost. For many marketers, this represents a real opportunity. Brands can capitalize on the “second-screen” audience – that is, those viewing content on a second device while watching TV.

A recent study found that content presented on the second screen that is relevant to the TV content can actually enhance memory and preference for the products included. So, what might have been a lost “tuning out” period can actually be one of stronger engagement and attention – quite a discovery for social and digital savvy brands.

But to truly make a second screen tactic relevant, a deep understanding of the audience is critical. Some new tools are emerging to help. For example, BlueFin Labs has created ways to map social media consumption against traditional media consumption and other consumer characteristics and can generate reports identifying the TV networks and specific shows that a brand’s target audience is tweeting about. They can then map the correlation between the TV airings of the advertisements and the social media mentions of the product.

Let me point to an example of a brand doing it right. Sun Drop, a citrus-flavored soda from Dr. Pepper Snapple Group with a relatively small but passionate following, produced ads that were more than 30-second commercials. They were highly shareable mini-narratives. Sun Drop understood that it had to think beyond the TV screen and create spots that could exist beyond their 30 seconds to spark dialogue and drive viewers – via a second device – to one of their online properties.  Opportunities to engage new consumers skyrocketed. By honing in on a specific audience who was likely to act (in this case, by posting on social media), the brand generated over 30,000 social mentions in less than a month.

All this boils down to a simple premise – if brands put in the work to understand where their audience goes, they can reach them at the right place and the right time and get them to act. Increasingly, that right place is a smartphone, and the right time is in the four-minute commercial break during Breaking Bad.

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One Response to Social TV: Turning Distraction into Opportunity

  1. The second screen is essential in creating active TV experiences, where viewers are physiologically transported from passive receptors to active participants.

    http://reachum.typepad.com/ourthinking/2012/06/active-tv.html

    There are many rich possibilities for building Second Screen experiences. In my opinion the best of these engage the audience as content contributors.

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