Four Ways to Grasp the Potential of the 'Second Screen'

4 minute read
Ashley Eckel avatar

Tapping into mobile marketing’s potential and using it to achieve business success continues to be a highly contested topic. From botched QR code attempts and SMS disasters to ignorable mobile ads, we've seemingly tried it all. Many who fail at these relatively newer technologies still haven’t mastered the more familiar channels consumers are using to reach their brands (web, TV, social, etc). So with the advent of the “second screen,” marketers are bracing themselves to tackle yet another phenomenon.

In hindsight, however, the second screen is not so much of a phenomenon, as an acceptance of consumers’ natural media consumption behaviors. After all, most of us have our smartphones or tablets (or both) nearby most of the time -- especially when engaging in more passive activities like watching TV, listening to music or surfing the net.We’re all multitasking, all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not.

The smart brands are playing right into consumers’ hands and embracing their habits. Tactics such as dedicated hash-tags, smartphone and tablet apps, and bonus online content are becoming the norm. Even AMC tells fans to “log on to AMC.com to start your two screen experience” during certain shows.

But getting on the second screen bandwagon, no matter how you choose to do so, is only half the battle. The manner in which you drive consumers to engage with it, the content you provide and your re-engagement strategy all play a role in sustaining second screen success.

1. Know Your Audience

You may be inclined to take the easy way out by copying other brands’ second screen success. But remember that what works for one audience may not work for yours.

If your Twitter following or its engagement is dismal, trying to force hash-tag based content could fail miserably. However, if your mobile site boasts great traffic, then capitalize on that by updating the content or even creating a mobile microsite dedicated to your second screen fans. At the end of the day, it’s always important to reinforce behaviors, not force them.

2. Make it Simple

Reinforcing inherent consumer behaviors can be one of the best ways to procure engagement with your second screen content. In short: don’t overthink your strategy.

QR codes are a great example of over-complicating a mobile experience, as they force consumers to engage in a non-native mobile behavior -- often leading to frustration. On the same hand, while SMS marketing is intended to tap into text messaging behavior, asking people to text foreign, non-memorable numbers is not a sure thing to securing lasting engagement.

Whenever possible, emphasize your brand or desired action within the call-to-action, such as simple web addresses, short branded phone numbers or easy-to-remember Twitter handles or hashtags. Providing the shortest distance between your consumer and brand, no matter which channel they are accessing you from, is imperative to increasing engagement -- especially on the second screen, an environment that is abundant with outside distractions.

3. Be Relevant

Marketers are constantly wrestling with how to provide more relevant content, at the right moment to consumers. The second screen is a natural vehicle for this type of achievement. Technology exists today that allows marketers to provide customized offers and content by device type, geographical location, time of day/day of week, new versus returning visitor, and so on.

Learning Opportunities

For example, if your desired action is to attain more app downloads, ensuring that the app contains content relevant in respect to the promotion is a must -- or else you’ll lose consumer interest rather quickly.

On the flip side, promoting app downloads over and over isn’t appropriate for those who already downloaded it. Instead, try offering a new second screen push that gives them a reason to access the app, such exclusive content, coupons, interviews with the cast or never-before-seen bloopers.

4. Engage and Re-engage

Simply boosting the number of consumers engaging your second screen content isn't the final stop. Take a television show, whose fan base is likely watching on a weekly basis, so offering new and relevant content week-to-week is imperative to re-engagement.

Tactics such “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 on your side, time and time again.

This second screen can be a game-changer for marketing, mobile and brand teams, but you have to make it work for your audience. Don’t force the issue, let your audience naturally fall into your content, and make it a relevant, and easily accessible experience.

Image courtesy of Ronald Sumners (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more by Ashley, check out 3 Reasons Why Web Analytics Aren't the New Marketing Funnel

About the author

Ashley Eckel

Ashley is Director of Marketing at Innovid, an interactive video advertising platform. She is responsible for market messaging, thought leadership and sales enablement programs.

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