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Engaging Consumers In A Multi-Screen World

Posted on September 11, 2013
By Shrikant Latkar, VP of MarketingVP of Marketing

Increasingly, TV viewers are engaging with visual content across a variety of screens including smartphones and tablets, leading to the multi-screen viewing experience. This growing trend has become a way of life with the ever-increasing capabilities for smartphones and tablets, and provides valuable opportunities for marketers. Here are a few guidelines that will help marketers benefit from these opportunities.

1. Know your audience

Be wary of targeting too many channels and spreading your content too thin. Find out which channels your targeted audience is most active on, and encourage engagement on those. Rather than using Facebook, where your audience engagement may be low, create great hashtag-based content on your Twitter account. Remember that it's easier to reinforce behaviors than to force new ones.

2. Keep it simple

Shorten the distance between the consumer and your brand by keeping your engagement strategy uncomplicated and simple. This is especially true for the multi-screen environment, where distractions are plentiful and continuous. Instead of resorting to QR codes or convoluted directions, keep your call-to-action simple, with straightforward Web addresses, phone numbers and short text messages.

3. Be relevant

Ensure that your content is relevant to your audience and ties in with the content they watch. You can get viewers interested by providing unique offers and content depending on the type of device, geography, time, day of the week, new versus returning visitors, and more. Fine-tune content to a TV episode, for example, to make it highly relevant and increase consumer engagement.

4. Engage and re-engage

It's not enough to merely engage using one-off content with consumers on their multiple screens. Since TV content changes constantly, it's important to follow up with new and relevant content each week to re-engage with your consumers. Tactics such as special offers after a number of check-ins and consistently updating mobile/tablet apps will help ensure that your consumers come back again and again.

Opportunities available to marketers

1. Gamifying TV ads

Engage TV viewers by adding multi-screen gaming elements that are fun to play and also tied into contests and prizes. In one example from a leading automaker, viewers who downloaded the iPhone app could use it to “capture” on-screen characters by physically swiping their phone at the ad. Users were encouraged to keep viewing the ad to catch all the characters. Within 2 weeks of launch the client achieved 10,000 app downloads and over 100,000 hits on YouTube.

2. Syncing e-commerce with TV content

Use an app that syncs to a TV show or ad and uses the mobile device to show how to buy in-show products, or shows products related to the TV content. This offers a great route to purchase and can add value for viewers, as when a leading online auction/shopping site used an app that allowed users to choose from their favorite shows as categories.

3. Leveraging the small screen during live events

Sports and other major events are a prime opportunity to leverage multi-screen viewing. A multinational beverage manufacturer created two animated bears for the Super Bowl who reacted to the game and the halftime show. The commercials in near real-time provide an example of reactive content that is used to drive better viewer engagement.

4. Give sports fans a game of their own

Sports fans -- the most engaged TV viewers -- can be further engaged through supplemental information, sports statistics and commentaries, or a group viewing experience. Accompanying apps, or ads which provide this information on mobile devices, can add value.

5. Incentivizing ad engagement

Reward TV viewers for watching commercials or multi-screen branded messaging with incentives like freebies and coupons. One option is to allow users to check in to TV shows, movies, music and books to win merchandise and gift certificates. Or offer exclusive content, such as behind-the-scenes video extras.

The future? Enabling real-time interactivity

Allowing viewers to influence the content of TV episodes, while still new, is becoming a viable option. Companion apps can allow viewers to influence the ending or storyline in near real-time. This would be an ideal opportunity for marketers to use high levels of engagement to showcase their brands by using in-app advertising while people are choosing the outcome of a TV show.

These strategies will help marketers improve consumer engagement with campaigns and target audiences more clearly. As the popularity of multi-screening grows, it will be crucial for marketers develop a multi-layered approach to content distribution that enables interactive engagement across devices to make it a relevant and easily accessible experience.

This news was published on MediaPost.