The second screening process: how social TV is changing the game

Increasing uptake of portable devices, faster broadband speeds and the convenience factor while watching TV are all creating a perfect storm for advertisers. The challenge now is to embrace digital technology to create two-way conversations in what has previously been a one-way street.

Certainly New Zealand is way down the list when it comes to understanding, let alone implementing, online strategies with traditional media. However this is going to change – and quickly.

The UFB rollout and savvy business operators like the masters of the Pacific Fibre initiative to build a new cable into NZ (Sam Morgan, Rod Drury and Stephen Tindall) will give consumers access to speeds previously never seen on these shores, meaning that launching interactive campaigns within the confines of traditional media become a key ingredient to the future success of a brand.

As viewing habits change, so too does one-way advertising. Add to this our almost blithely naive attitude to sharing our every offline moment with our online ones, and marketers here will be watching with interest those countries where the impact of the ‘second screen’ while watching television is gaining some serious traction.

The advent of the second screen

While Samsung, ASUS, Blackberry (name your brand!) try to play catch-up to Apple, the iPad is only into its second iteration and already according to data from Yahoo/Nielsen, 86 percent of web users in the US access the internet via a mobile device such as the iPad or iPhone while watching TV. Armed with this information, content providers and advertisers are looking to complement the viewing experience with the online platform in order to create stickier audiences and increase ROI.

But how is it being done?

Tag a TV ad, get a free Pepsi

iPhone app IntoNow has partnered with Pepsi in a promotion that rewards users with a free drink if they manage to ‘tag’ the drink maker’s TV commercial.

IntoNow works much the same way as Shazam or Soundhound, however, instead of recognising songs or music it recognises television shows.

According to IntoNow founder and CEO Adam Cahan: “This is the first time where consumers can close the funnel between a brand experience on a TV commercial right down to a real-world drink you can consume.”

IntoNow has 600,000 users and generates between 25,000 to 35,000 tags per day. Not bad going. Earlier in the year Yahoo bought a similar concept from IntoNow for $20 million – that’s some nice action, if you can get it.


Shazam doesn’t want to identify what you’re watching but it does want to help you unlock prizes. Mega brands like Honda, Starbucks and Paramount Pictures have partnered with Shazam where radio and TV ads can be “Shazamed” to unlock free music, buy tickets or purchase an entire soundtrack.

Shazam is on about 45 million phones and tablets – that’s a ton of phones to point at tellies and radios and earlier in the year it raised $32 million to push into the TV market.

Web-ready TVs

Sky TV recently launched Soho and now the ridiculous Igloo channel is on the horizon, but how much longer will Kiwis be tied into paying exorbitant prices for premium content?

Coming back to the fact that we have incredibly slow internet speeds, US-based content streaming provider Netflix said in November 2011 that it hadno plans to enter the NZ market due to low internet data caps and problems obtaining content.

On the back of data out of the US, 65 percent of TVs sold in 2012 will be connected to the web, so perhaps the UFB initiative will arrive just in time for some of us to adopt this trend.

Freeing the consumer to enjoy the content of their choice will open the doors to hyper-targeted advertising pitched at the level of the audience rather than at the level of the show. Personally, I can’t wait to not have to endure the Harvey Norman guy yelling at me every second ad break.

Don’t believe online TV will take off? YouTube does and is investing $100 million in premium content. Still not convinced? Considering YouTube has made its money on the back of thousands of ridiculous cat videos and Charlie biting his brother’s finger, imagine the cash it can make showing premium content. Cue cash registers ringing as advertisers fight dirty to have their logos on screen.

Social TV

Twitter hasn’t exactly taken off in New Zealand, however it is used extensively during shows overseas to generate chatter or what producers used to call the “watercooler effect”. The X Factor became the first reality show to allow voting via Twitter and the stats backed up the decision to test the waters.

Perhaps it’s not revolutionary stuff but online sentiment (“Shortland Street was epic tonight! or “Shortland Street is going all Ramsay Street – yuck!”) is social currency for success or failure and gives instant feedback for networks.

So while TV advertising is best for telling people about a new brand or reaffirming a brand’s presence, online is about sharing and socialising. Although IntoNow, Shazam, Twitter and YouTube are not game changers, they do answer the question about why a consumer decides to engage with a brand in a social environment – to win prizes or get something for free. And in doing so it just so happens they have found a way to successfully merge both the offline and online worlds.

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