Second screen: how to achieve maximum advertising impact on multiple screens

TV devices are increasingly having to share the limelight with smartphones and tablets. That also has its benefits, though. By linking TVs and second screens, you can amplify your advertising messages and impact.

Precisely targeting viewers on their second screen using TV-synced online advertising.
Image: © lensw0rld / Adobe Stock

Second screening while watching TV: a global trend

Generally, second screening – also referred to as multi-screening or social TV – is when viewers use an additional device while watching a TV show, particularly during a commercial break, to surf online, send messages, shop, talk about the show with others on social networks, or specifically search for more information on the media content that has been shown.

The “Mobile Streaming Report 2021” published by the B2B SaaS provider Adjust, which surveyed 7,000 people of all ages from eight countries, demonstrates just how widespread the second screen phenomenon is:

of all respondents use their smartphone while watching TV.

The report reveals that multi-screening is especially prevalent in China (85%), Singapore (85%), and the USA (83%); as for the German audience, the simultaneous use of TV and a second screen is also commonplace, at 74%.

Intertwining TV commercials and second screen advertising

Traditional TV advertising is still very popular among advertisers. According to advertising statistics released by Nielsen, the share of TV advertising on the German advertising market rose from 43.6% in Q1 2020 to 46.4% in Q1 2021, despite slight sales declines as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s no longer just big established companies that are advertising on TV: young companies with digital business models are also increasingly incorporating TV into their marketing mix.

But aren’t expensive advertising budgets at variance with the second screen phenomenon if viewers are switching to their smartphone or tablet during the commercial break? Not if you use the devices as an additional promotional space for your second screen advertising by providing relevant content that establishes a direct link to the activities, interests, and search intents of your target group sitting in front of the TV screen. This form of connected storytelling enables you to

  • target potential customers at the precise moment their interest has been piqued in your products or services,
  • address them when they are searching for more information,
  • deliberately extend your TV advertising messages to the second screen and amplify them,
  • develop your brand story seamlessly across multiple screens by implementing harmonized cross-media advertising campaigns, and
  • develop effective funnels for the customer journey that draw viewers further into the sales process with their TV acting as the touchpoint.

With all that in mind, adding second screen marketing to your marketing mix significantly helps you maximize the impact of both your TV commercials and your online campaigns through the interplay between the two.

Second screen marketing: TV sync campaigns for connected storytelling

To make the crossover from the television to the second screen as seamless as possible, syncing your TV advertising with your online campaigns is an essential factor. Technologies that register when your TV commercials are being broadcast, such as automatic content recognition (ACR), are usually used for this purpose. Specially tailored online ads can then be served via linked web analytics and advertising platforms as part of SEA campaigns that are run in parallel with the TV ads. You can also tie in your website by using connected storytelling to mirror, build on, and delve deeper into the content of your TV commercial while it is being played.

By being present on both screens, TV-synced online advertising offers you a powerful tool to precisely control the customer journey of interested viewers and effectively intensify your advertising messages. Another advantage of the interplay between TV and online advertising is that you can accurately measure your multi-screen campaigns using performance marketing tools. These will help you better understand the interests and actions of your viewers and thus enable you to continuously optimize how you design and combine your TV and online campaigns.

Customer journey: avoiding gaps in the crossover to the second screen

As already touched upon, your website or specially designed landing pages play a key role in second screen advertising. Usually, you will attract interested viewers to these either directly from your TV commercial or via your online ads. Therefore, you should ensure that your commercials make it as easy as possible for viewers to start out on their customer journey, while also encouraging them to interact with your company.

Most visits prompted by TV commercials happen during the time they are broadcast. To avoid gaps in the customer journey of your potential buyers, it is therefore absolutely crucial to directly reflect the look and feel of your TV ad on your landing pages.

Nothing could be more off-putting for viewers of your TV commercials than having to search high and low on your website for the advertised products. You should never underestimate the importance of your homepage and landing pages from a storytelling perspective. Your TV commercial acts as a teaser, while your landing pages are where you unravel the story and deliver content that is relevant to your target group at that moment in time.

Minimize banner blindness

By combining TV advertising and second screen marketing, you get extremely close to viewers and their needs. The customer journey should be designed in such a way that the crossover to the second screen is perceived as a helpful feature and not as annoying ad spam. A critical factor in this context is banner blindness, which can have a negative impact on your campaign results. Especially for those viewers who turn to their second screen during a TV commercial out of boredom, additional advertising can lead to your ads being regarded as disruptive and thus deliberately ignored.

In this sense, if you want to minimize the effect of banner blindness and run a successful campaign, it all comes down to placing your online ads in the right context and appropriately formulating your advertising messages.

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