There’s a hot debate right now about which device currently holds the “first screen” crown. Some argue it’s still TV, while others believe mobile is taking the reigns. Whether or not you agree that mobile is destined to supplant the television as the main screen for delivering and consuming content (and no matter what you believe, rest assured that TV -- and its value to brands -- isn’t going anywhere), there’s no doubt that mobile has become a highly sought-after screen for advertisers and audiences alike. So much so, that it’s increasingly at the center of entire campaign strategies.
Either way, these two mediums are essentially inseparable. A 30- or 60-second television spot is a direct path to one-on-one engagement with audiences. Audiences use their mobile devices to learn about actors, research shows, access exclusive content -- all while sharing commentary and joining real-time conversations about their favorite programs on social media.
So it is less about who is winning the battle for the industry-invented “first-screen” title, but rather a discussion about how to make both channels work together to improve audience experiences.
TV and Mobile: A Total Disconnect
A recent study reviewed 150 commercials over the course of a two-week period and examined the audience’s experience engaging with any particular TV call-to-action, whether in-program or via commercial, a URL, a tagline, social media icons, hashtags, app store icons or even just a brand logo.
The study found that only two percent of brands offered consumers a path to direct mobile engagement or interaction via their TV spots, and further, only 48 percent of the advertised URLs were optimized for mobile devices.
A New Age of Advertising
The bright side? Mobile multitasking presents a huge opportunity for brands to play right into consumers’ hands. Literally. So the real question to ask yourself is: “What should I focus on?”
For starters, brands must think about how they’re driving consumers to engage with broadcast advertising in addition to what content consumers want to engage with.
1. Right Content, Right Audience
Your audience is unique, so think about what’s right for them -- not what other brands are doing. Are your app downloads off the charts? Develop a microsite for your second screen fans. Twitter following abysmal? Maybe it’s not the time to try to drive awareness with a hashtag. Mobile works best when you reinforce behaviors, not force them.
2. Make it Simple
Asking people to remember complicated URLs or phone numbers often leads to frustration rather than engagement. Instead opt for a basic call-to-action, such as simple mobile optimized web addresses, short branded phone numbers or easy to remember Twitter handles or hashtags.
3. Engage and Re-engage
With the majority of audiences watching the same shows week after week, it’s a chance to grow your relationship with them. Tactics such as “unlocking special content” after a number of check-ins, or placing new codes/content after a certain number of commercials, and even consistent updating of the mobile or tablet apps, are all necessary steps to keeping your audience engaged, week to week.
The Other Second-Screen: Social Media
(OK, OK, I know it isn't a “Screen,” but bear with me)
TV only snags about four hours of a consumer’s daily media consumption. The other 20 hours of the day (when they’re not sleeping, of course), consumers rely on social media to look for stimulation, engagement and general distractions -- be it in a mobile or desktop environment.
Now that social media is dominating mobile activity, it’s not hard to see that the next wave of opportunity lies at the intersection of the two. After all, you can’t carry a 42 inch flatscreen everywhere you go -- which means TV can’t be the primary host to our increasingly mobile lives, and that the so-called first screen often plays no role at all.
The content we’re consuming relates directly to our lives: Instagram, Foursquare, Vine, Snapchat and even mobile-only dating platforms like Tinder, cater to our need to coordinate, socialize and connect with other human beings on the go. And because this content is so intimately about us -- our locations, our desires, our relationships, our likes and dislikes -- it’s inevitable … mobile is becoming the first screen. And with this shift, advertisers gain a significant opportunity to step out of the second-screen shadows and into their own direct relationships with consumers.
Take Gillette for example. They made a splash in Sweden with a groundbreaking campaign based on its “Venus” line of razors. The company wanted to encourage Swedes, who are more likely to cover up and forego shaving during the long Nordic winters, to keep up maintenance year round. Enter Gillette’s “Tag the Weather” campaign.
By tapping into the GPS technology on their audience’s mobile devices and marrying that with their Instagram accounts, consumers were prompted to upload pictures that showed how brutal the local winter weather was for a chance to win a much-needed vacation to Miami. Gillette also partnered with a prominent Swedish e-tailer to set up a streamlined buying process from the campaign's website to give campaign participants a fast and simple way to buy the product when it was fresh on their minds. By the end Gillette saw a 100 percent increase in razor sales in general and a 500 percent sales increase for the “Venus” product specifically.
Obviously not all audience activation efforts are created equal. Successful campaigns don’t treat audiences’ close relationships with their mobile devices, TV and social media as an afterthought; they prioritize these things during upfront planning. They then get customers involved with engagement and interaction that takes place in real time and on a one-to-one basis.
Title image courtesy of red-feniks (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: To read more of Ashley's mobile advice, see