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What is Second Screen Marketing and Why Should Brands Care About It?

This year’s Super Bowl was a digital marketer’s dream. Combine the largest TV audience in history, outrageous advertising spends and a plethora of digital tools at their disposal and you get a pretty fun playground for brand managers to tinker around in. Digital integration is not new to the Super Bowl. The difference this year is that it was the rule, not the exception. Many brands went well beyond the standard ‘Like us on Facebook’ and ‘Follow us on Twitter’ and identified ways in which they could engage viewers while they were watching the game and their ads. This idea of a social television where a viewer interacts with the content they are consuming on an additional electronic device is called ‘second screen’ marketing A second screen can be any screen that is in addition to a TV, but usually refers to a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. The goal of second screen marketing is to make TV content interactive and give the content provider a second platform on which to market to the viewer. For advertisers, second screen marketing is a great opportunity to maximize their ad spend and keep the conversation going after the 30 or 60 second spot is over. There are a number of creative digital tools that can be used in a second screen marketing campaign. Here are a few that have become rather popular lately:


GetGlue is a social TV app on which viewers can ‘check-in’ to whatever TV show or movie they are currently watching. Once checked-in, users are able to chat with other users that are checked-in to the same show. There is also a gaming aspect to GetGlue, since users are able to earn special promotional ‘stickers’ for checking-in to certain shows. These stickers are usually the result of a partnership between GetGlue and a particular TV network or brand advertiser. This year, GetGlue saw 160,000 check-ins to the Super Bowl, which was dramatically higher than 2011, when 20,000 check-ins took place. A great deal of this spike in activity can be attributed to promotional deals they were running with NBC and Pepsi. One of Pepsi’s Pepsi Max promotions on GetGlue Sunday was a Pepsi-for-life- giveaway to a lucky user that checked-in.


Shazam is an audio-recognition mobile app that was originally created to recognize what song you were listening to. Multiple partnerships with brands have pushed Shazam beyond song-recognition and have harnessed the app’s audio-recognition abilities to give them a way to bring TV viewers online. A great example of a brand using Shazam in a second screen marketing campaign is Twentieth Century Fox’s ‘Glee: The Concert Movie’ promotion. The DVD, which was released just before Christmas, included tags in its audio track and prompted viewers to enable their Shazam mobile app. The app recognized the tags and brought the DVD viewer online for additional Glee content and deals on merchandise and other Glee DVDs.

Custom Mobile Apps:

A number of TV networks and brand advertisers have created mobile apps that complement their show or ad. Mobile apps are relatively inexpensive and have enormous reach with social sharing features. Chevy’s Game Time app is a great example of a brand using a mobile app for second screen marketing. Chevy’s Super Bowl-themed app, which was highly promoted before and during the game, brought the viewer online where they could enter to win cars, answer game-related questions, tweet about the game, and watch Chevy ads if they happened to miss them. Chevy took second screen marketing one step further and tied the TV ads back in to the app by issuing a code to anyone that registered the app and giving away vehicles to anyone whose code appeared on a license plate in the TV ads. A very creative way to close the TV/online loop. Of course, it should be noted that social TV mobile apps need to be simple, clean and easy to use.  You are, after all, competing against the TV for a portion of the viewer’s attention span. While Chevy’s idea was creative and solid, the app itself was overwhelming and very difficult to navigate at first. After using it myself, I have no doubt that more than a few people may have downloaded the app and then lost interest after trying to figure out what to do with it.

Good Old Twitter:

Was there an ad on Sunday that DIDN’T have a Twitter hashtag associated with it? Twitter, a second screen marketing staple, was everywhere during the Super Bowl as it is for most major television events these days. Brands realize that people love to talk about what they are watching and a great majority of those talkers flock to Twitter. On Sunday, Twitter set a record with 12,233 tweets per second during the final three minutes of the game. Twitter users tweeted about everything from the game action, to Madonna’s halftime performance, to the ads (the good and the bad). Aside from the hashtags pushed in various commercials, there were a number of preset hashes that users could monitor and use in their tweets to chat with other viewers like #SuperBowl, #SB46 and #brandbowl, the brilliant creation of fellow advertising agency Mullen, which was squarely focused on tweets about the game’s ads.

My Take:

The marriage of television and web is becoming closer and more integrated by the day. Second screen marketing is an excellent tool for anyone, network or brand, that wants to extend the life of their production and get a bit more bang for their investment. By bringing your viewers online, you open up all kinds of new avenues on which you can market to the viewer well after the event, show, video or ad is over. Is your company a good fit for second screen marketing but you don’t know where to start? Contact us and let our Digital Strategy Team come up with a campaign that maximizes your TV investment. Our team is comprised of some of the best digital strategists in the business and we can help your team craft a second screen plan and identify the proper digital tools to use in the implementation.
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