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.

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