Magid Report Urges Standards for Simulscreen Advertising

For the two-screen advertising vision to have any chance of success – a high priority among many cable operators and networks – there must be a uniform standard, ideally managed by an outside source, according to a report issued on Dec. 6 by research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc.

It characterizes the hundred competing start-up “simulscreen” projects as a barrier to advertisers, cable operators, broadcasters and consumers. The study cites the problems faced by the failed Canoe Venture of cable companies as an example of the “insurmountable challenges to negotiating agreement on technical, legal, and privacy standards.”

“Digital set-top box measurement promises to bring a digital ‘click-by-click’ style metric to TV viewing measurement, but adoption by programmers … has been slow and fragmented,” according to Magid’s report, “The Two-Screen Television Marketplace.”

Echoing the viewpoint of CTAM and many advertising analysts, Magid points out that despite today’s multitasking and interactive marketing activities, “linear [TV] content allows for the effective delivery of a message to the viewer/listener.”

Magid points out the accelerating growth of simulscreening (multitasking via tablet or smartphone while watch TV) and urges an immediate need to establish a standardized system that will become familiar to two-screen users.         

“Lock ’em in now,” says the report, citing the number of new users during 2013. “23% of smartphone intenders and 575 of tablet intenders will be new to the platform. The time to build relationships and capture these uncommitted users is now.”

Magid examines “simulscreen engagement” as the latest in a series of technology developments that “are impacting TV advertising effectiveness and efficiency.” 

“The emerging second-screen advertising segment …needs an independent, agnostic ‘clearinghouse’ entity that meets the requirements of all industry participants,” according to the Magid report. “A simulscreen clearinghouse entity such as this must receive support of all the participants, and therefore is unlikely to succeed should it come from an existing broadcaster, programmer, distributor, or ad agency.”

Citing data form Nielsen, Rentrak and TRA (a research firm recently acquired by TiVo), Magid emphasizes the value of “tying behavior to viewing” by enabling a process that connects “advertisers’ efforts and consumers responses – in this case via an action on the tablet or smartphone.”

Magid segments the competing companies that offer software to coordinate tablet and smartphone interactivity with commercials or other on-screen content into eight categories.  (See chart – and ignore the archaic image of a ‘70s vintage TV set at the center of its “Social TV Ecosystem.”)   The roster includes “Ad-Serving Platforms,”  “Rewards,” “Social TV Analytics” with some companies such as Zeebox (which recently signed deals with Comcast, NBC Universal, Viacom and HBO), Viggle and GetGlue appearing in several sectors

According to Magid, advertisers that want to saturate the “mobile multitasking footprint” would have to negotiate dozens of agreements with simulscreen providers as well as with networks, cable and satellite operators – “a highly inefficient proposition.”

Emphasizing the monetization imperative in this new opportunity: “Simulscreening must involve the viewer interacting with not only content, but also with advertising, which pays the bills.”

The report also contends that a standard and independent platform “is required for this huge opportunity to scale,” noting that an “unaffiliated, standardized, open system” would provide synchronization, incentives, organized social activity and accurate measurement with post-engagement tracking and a reporting system.”

“Independent software developers and entrepreneurs without an ax to grind may be best positioned to disrupt the TV advertising value chain’s status quo with an innovative, industry-neutral horizontal solution to an age-old problem,” Magid concludes.  “In order for the simulscreen advertising marketplace potential to be fully realized, all industry players will need to come together in recognition of a core set of standards that allow advertisers to make single creative/single order arrangements for all their simulscreen experiences.

“Without this type of efficiency, simulscreen commercial media buys and experiences will tend to be one-off, more experimental efforts,” says the report, underscoring the need for “an end-to-end system that can bring together all the key players.” Magid emphasizes the value of an experienced, independent organization that “can inform and drive the process” toward “a new era of engaged, lead-generating and measurable iTV advertising.”

Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications LLC in Bethesda, Md., and a long-time interactive TV enthusiast. Reach him at

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.