A few months ago, the Super Bowl made history as a record 112 million fans tuned in to watch the game, many of them simultaneously interacting with some of their favorite brands through social media. The second screen audience is turning conventional marketing tactics on its head as mega brands like Microsoft, Doritos, and RadioShack are engaging in real time with television viewers. So how is social media changing the way we view television, and for brands, how can we capitalize on these opportunities?

Simultaneous Multiscreening: What the Numbers Say

A 2012–2013 report from Google called The New Multi-Screen World Study found that the majority of media interaction today (88 percent) is screen based, taking place on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. However, the majority of people surveyed said they habitually “multiscreen” or use two devices simultaneously. Whether it’s a tablet, a PC, or a phone, people are multitasking. According to the study, the smartphone is the most frequent companion device during simultaneous usage. And as many as 77 percent of television viewers admit to using their phones while watching their favorite show.

The fact is that people switch between mobile devices all day long, but there’s a growing tendency to use devices more frequently during television broadcasts. And as expected, studies report a higher percentage of posts on social networks about content that is being watched.

Social Television Is Here to Stay

Television is social, highlighting the need for interaction between brands and consumers. Popular programs like “The Voice” broadcast live tweets and dialogue between co-hosts and viewers. Sports broadcasting offers fans the chance to view the game at a different angle or watch extra, behind the scene clips not broadcast on live television. ESPN integrates tweets from fans about specific plays directly into SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays each day.

Simultaneous use means that content viewed on one device can trigger behavior on another, and forward-looking companies need to start tailoring strategies that focus on the user since second screens are now a natural extension of television programming. Applications in the second screen offer consumers another way to interact—but they also open the door for brands to get strategic with advertising.

Targeting Capabilities

The opportunity is available for brands to up their mobile efforts to reach consumers who are using more than one device simultaneously. But how? Mobile makes more content available, but it also creates opportunities for brands to tap into niche markets. Consider the fact that social networks are already making tools available to more effectively target your core audience. Among them, Facebook offers Custom Audience, LinkedIn has Custom Audiences, and Twitter offers Tailored Audiences, all designed to help advertisers identify specific, focused consumers.

Targeting capabilities like those offered through Twitter help brands narrow advertising efforts to people who are using a specific hashtag, pushing promoted tweets, and engaging a more concentrated audience. As part of these custom targeting capabilities, the social networks allow brands to take their customer email databases and match them against email addresses used to create a social network account, giving brands even greater targeting capabilities.

Multiscreen Marketing: What Works?

Multiscreen marketing can have a tremendous impact when done right. At least one study released earlier this year by AdReaction found that people may be more receptive to ads on television compared to ads on a computer, phone, or tablet. However, the study also found that people are receptive to TV ads they can interact with via a mobile device. With links to a website or short 5 to 10 second videos, brands can make it easy for consumers to receive a message on TV and potentially share it via social networks. The unique part from their study, however, was that consumers are not as receptive to marketing and advertisements that occur only on smartphones and tablets or to ads that continue the conversation about a TV show or ad after it has already aired. That makes it more complicated.

With more consumers watching television with a mobile device in hand, brands have more opportunities than ever to reach targeted at home viewers. Second screen campaigns that maximize this new media landscape by tying mobile and television together can help people find out more about the products they know, share with friends, and connect to the brands they love.