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Converting second screeners

Jess Stephens, Product Specialist at SmartFocus , examines how marketers need to change the way they communicate with the ‘always connected shopper’ and how second screen marketing is set to take off as the world goes mobile.

The amount of information we consume as individuals each day has increased by 5 times since 1986. In just under 30 years, the way we communicate and interact has vastly changed. Rather than reading a daily paper, we are now connected to information on the various screens we use for more than an estimated 444 minutes per day, or around 46% of our waking life.

This huge increase is, of course, due to the number of screens we now have in the home, at work, and in our pockets and handbags, with the 444 minutes being shared across TVs, PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The screen clocking up the most hours is the phone, with over 151 minutes daily.

It is not just the number of different devices we are using that has led to the increase though. It’s the multiplier effect created through second screening. Tablets and mobiles are being used alongside our primary media consumption – at the same time. The second screen supplements TV with mobile content, print ads with calls to action and cinema pre-shows with interactivity for the movie-goer.

This combination of technologies creates a symbiotic relationship between devices rather than a competition for attention. The potential outcome is an increase in engagement rather than passive viewing by the consumer. This means that different channels aren’t fighting it out like the home TV screen and movie theatres did in the past. The relationship is not a mutually exclusive one, but rather complementary, because the mobile – which has fast become the portal most of us choose to connect to the internet – is of course, inherently mobile.

The smartphone acts as a companion to whatever your customers are now doing. Instead of binary and independent channels, represented in a strict bar chart, we have beautiful overlapping Venn diagrams where sharing is a must and there is no winner. Why? Because if you were to make the customer choose, they would clearly choose their mobile, with reports stating that the majority of smartphone users are total nomaphobes (suffering from a fear of being without a phone) not being able to leave their device alone for more than 7 minutes in the day.


Through use of Twitter hashtags at the beginning of shows, to fully interactive programmes like Million Pound Drop and The Singer takes It All, TV producers are waking up to the fact that second screening is “a thing” and beyond that, it is a good thing, enhancing, amplifying and favourably augmenting the viewing experience. It will be a different kind of experience focussed on live TV, events and interactivity, but it is certainly not dying out.

Advertising is one of the areas where mobile use by consumers presents new opportunities; the second screen concept is a prime example. Through technology, advertisers have access to a new form of customer engagement and like all new things, can start measuring it. Take for example the Shazam Engagement Metric which attempts to brand the very act of second screen value tracking for TV advertising – handy for a company whose revenues depend on it. Shazam’s companion app – now at 100 million monthly active users – loads further information on the user’s smartphone when a TV ad is tagged, using the digital fingerprint of the audio track. This provides a wealth of information back to the advertiser about when their adverts were seen and by how many people. Shazam say they will be “respectful” about tracking this level of personal data while allowing advertisers to more effectively monitor their campaign’s performance.

The cinema industry, not to be left out, is also getting in on second screening. In a surprising move following more than a decade of ads telling us to turn off our phones in the auditorium, apps like Cinime now tell moviegoers to “use your little screen to get more from the big screen”. Interactive games, resulting in treats and rewards, show that Cinime has nailed the customer engagement necessary to keep users active on their smartphone. It is yet to be seen what lift advertisers including BMW, and Sony’s PlayStation have gained from it. Time will also tell what sort of measurement the app creators are able to deliver through this media channel.

Use your little screen to get more from the big screen

So, what does this mean for retailers? The same super-connected consumer is now walking into stores, with the ability to price compare, share and research while on the move. Retail can make a move to embrace this like TV and cinema are beginning to do, or struggle down the line when choice and convenience lose the customer. A smart approach is to join in the game – allow free Wi-Fi in store and have your ecommerce site load automatically on open; use contextual marketing including beacons and location technology to make sure that you know when a loyal customer is in store; invite reviews via connected screens and displays. The power to win the customer is squarely in the hands of the retailer who is not scared of the mobile device in store.

With Apple’s introduction of Apple Pay a few months ago, we’ve started to see mobile payments in store increase. The loop is then fully closed from mobile marketing to mobile in-store commerce – for certain Apple devices at least. Where traditionally mobile marketing has been seen as the responsibility of the digital marketing department, payment via mobile alongside proximity marketing brings it squarely into the camp of bricks and mortar retail divisions. It also presents a huge opportunity to combat showrooming. With almost 50% of people admitting to browsing in store then purchasing online anything retailers can do to keep the sale, rather than risk losing to a competitor, becomes hugely worthwhile. Context-aware marketing via the mobile is the best play for this scenario; messaging users when they are in the all-important purchasing mind-set.

So, how does a business navigate this change, and the frontier of the dual screening, showrooming landscape?


With over half of time spent on smartphones viewing apps, the all-important download becomes a valuable way of stealing more screen time. Add to that the benefits of being able to add location based tracking down to micro-location provided by beacons to achieve incremental value for the business. The app then acts as a new channel, with carefully targeted push notifications able to bring the kind of engagement you might traditionally expect from email. The most sophisticated campaigns combine mobile push notifications within the overall CRM program, contacting customers more frequently, but with shorter more contextually relevant messages. And don’t forget the Tablet. Google states that 72% of tablet users make at least 1 purchase a week from their tablet, making them an extremely valuable segment. Tablets are used in the home, with the sofa-surfers indexing highly. So search campaigns can be day-parted to reflect this at-home usage.

Attribution models become seriously important when considering second screeners. The purchasing decision moment is likely to happen on a different device to the buying moment, so aligning and integrating efforts across channels is the best approach. This sounds complex, but it starts with simply identifying example sessions that might cross from mobile to TV to PC in a way that means you can plan out your marketing efforts against them.

The future of marketing rests on a few incontrovertible facts: social media is here to stay, the average consumer is mobile, increasingly local, using several devices… and probably female. Third screening is just around the corner, with wearables being the anticipated next big trend.

CMOs need the technology that perfectly connects them with this developing demographic. An actual mobile strategy does this. With big data capabilities it’s now possible to collect, store, analyse and manipulate an unprecedented volume of information in fractional amounts of time. Match that with a relevant and real-time messaging platform and business can achieve true context aware marketing, wherever the customer may be, and on however many screens.

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