Banking on the Second Screen

Broadcast TV and cable networks and their advertisers are spending more heavily on second screen strategies as they attempt to engage viewers as more of their attention is diverted away from the primary TV screen.

But where is the return on that investment? Thanks in part to a mix of sponsorships, display ads, interactive ads, and “check-in” loyalty programs, those second screen strategies are poised to become true money-makers.

“This is nascent technology, something that’s really emerging,” said Guy Finley, executive director of the 2nd Screen Society, an organization that’s dedicated to educating companies about the second screen market and how to develop video strategies for companion devices. “The iPhone had an impact, but the tablet took it to the next level.”

Developing and monetizing those efforts will be a key focus at the 2nd Screen Summit, a day-long event set for Thursday, June 27, at the Clearview Cinemas Chelsea in New York City, that Finley said is becoming a “conduit and gathering place” for the growing second screen community and the ecosystem that’s developing around it.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to engage the viewer that is unprecedented,” Finley said of second screen apps that sync up with live TV broadcasts to provide information about the show being watched, to conduct viewer polls, or trigger interactive ads.

That’s also opening the door to specialized “check-in” apps from companies such as Viggle and GetGlue that reward viewers with coupons and gift cards for tuning in and remaining loyal.

“Let’s face it, a commercial is not a great reward,” Finley said.

And engaging with viewers via tablets and smartphones will provide networks and their advertisers with valuable, more granular data that they can’t get from traditional TV viewing measurement tools.

Thanks to the skyrocketing adoption of tablets and smartphones, “everybody has a Nielsen box in their pocket,” Finley said. “You get a lot better perspective on who’s consuming your content.”