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For developers and programmers, it’s hard to think about second-screen apps without immediately turning to thoughts of next steps and a path to a more versatile future. And as technology evolvers get more experience with these apps, they are increasingly shifting their strategies to boost usage and better monetize these efforts.
One major push has been to find ways to expand the apps’ relatively small user bases, which has limited their appeal to advertisers and some programmers. “Many of them don’t have more than 1 million active users,” says Marc DeBevoise, executive VP/GM of CBS Interactive’s entertainment, news and sports division. “We wish them well, but we don’t see a benefit in participating with companies that are trying to build a media business on the back of our audience if we can do it ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter, which have huge user bases, have been aggressively expanding their alliances with TV players, prompting predictions that some weaker players won’t survive. “The investment community is looking at some sort of consolidation in the market,” says Evan Krauss, president of GetGlue.
To set themselves apart, a number of companies have been upgrading their offerings. In August, GetGlue announced that its app was being integrated into DirecTV; in September it rolled out an update featuring an improved guide to TV shows and the ability to instantly watch many shows and movies via Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, ABC, CBS and others.
In late October, ConnecTV shifted its strategy with the launch of an app that emphasizes sharing of clips and social media over providing additional content. “Our research found that about two-thirds didn’t want all that ancillary content, so we have focused on social engagement,” says Ian Aaron, cofounder and CEO of ConnecTV.
As part of that effort, ConnecTV has added new tools that let users easily create six-second clips from live TV programming and then share it with others. “It is unlike anything else out there,” Aaron says.
Second-screen players have also been working to demonstrate the effectiveness of their offerings. An October study by Optimal and Civolution found that synching up Facebook ads with TV spots produced a 60% bounce in click-through rates.
Studies released by Viggle over the summer also showed that second-screen efforts greatly improved brand recall and intent to purchase, reports Greg Consiglio, president and COO of Viggle, which has given more than $14 million in rewards since its launch.
During the last season of The Bachelorette, an ABC and Viggle second-screen effort with Clorox increased purchase intent by 76%, reports Pooja Midha, ABC senior VP of digital ad sales and operations.
Meanwhile, Shazam has seen an uptick in new campaigns, which now total about 10 per week, thanks to tighter relationships with ad agencies, better analytical tools and its large user base, which now has 20 million active U.S. users. “While a lot of the TV companion apps are really struggling, we are seeing increasingly high renewal rates,” says David Jones, Shazam executive VP of marketing.
Time Warner Cable Media Takes Ads Everywhere
Within the last two weeks, Time Warner Cable Media (TWC Media) has started conversations with advertisers about its recently launched TWC Media Ads Everywhere to customize the way ads are inserted across 50 live networks on multiple platforms, reports Joan Gillman, executive VP and COO Time Warner Cable Media.
TWC Media is billing the effort as the first multiscreen solution for iOS and Android devices and desktops that offers live ad insertion capabilities across such a wide breadth of programming on the Time Warner Cable TV app.
As more programmers and operators make more content available on multiple devices as part of TV everywhere offerings, the move is an important step forward in helping to monetizing those efforts, which are extremely appealing to consumers but do entail additional costs.
To develop the system, the company built a number of components itself and worked with additional outside ad technology vendors, including Black Arrow, SeaWell Networks and FreeWheel. "There wasn't a single third-party solution to handle what we wanted to do," Gillman says.
Key components of the system are up and running in all of its markets with TWC Media currently using it to insert its own marketing and promotional ads in local avails.
But the multiphase project will eventually be rolling out much more expansive capabilities for targeting demographics and other features in 2014 and beyond, Gillman explains.
For the first phase of the rollout, TWC Media is talking to advertisers about inserting ads into live streams in the MSOs local avails. Some of this could begin later this year but Gillman expects the big push forward to occur in 2014. Currently it is selling three targeted demographics-women and entertainment, men and sports and business and news.
"Next year, some in the first half, some in the second half, you will see greater targeting ability," Gillman says.
A key step in that direction will be the deployment of what the company is calling its Subscriber Information Service in the first half of 2014. "That will have the data to set this up and once it is in place we will be able to do a lot more granular targeting," she says.
The overall effort mirrors a larger strategy by the operator to make as much content available as possible on multiple devices. "We are piggy-backing on the company's pioneering work streaming video to the iPad, Roku, Apple, Android and other devices, and we were very much part of those early conversations thinking about what opportunities this creates for multiscreen ad campaigns," she says.
Over time, this could also bring in interactive second-screen features with complementary ads on different platforms.
ABC Sends One to the Bleachers
An effort by ABC, Viggle and Clorox, tied into the reality series The Bachelorette provides some new data on how second-screen efforts can help boost multiplatform ad campaigns, notes Pooja Midha, senior VP of digital ad sales and operations, ABC Television Network.
As part of the Clorox's "Bleachable Moments" campaign, viewers could go to ABC.com or check-in with Viggle to vote on clips from the show that illustrated moments that were "cringe-worthy," and evoked a feeling of "make it go away." Viggle also worked to drive traffic to Clorox/ABC mobile websites and to check into Clorox's on-air spot to get additional content.
Following the campaign, which ran from April 27 to July 8, data showed that sponsorship association on ABC.com was 73% higher than the control sample and that purchase intent was up by 76%.
The promotion also did well on Viggle with a 78% engagement rate with Clorox video units on Viggle's show pages and a 62% engagement rate with the "Bleachable Moments" voting unit.
In addition, 41% of those who checked in with Viggle also played along with Viggle Live, answering trivia and polls during the show. Here, 78% of those who were asked about the Clorox on-air spot answered correctly.
"The idea came about in conversations with Clorox's agency and Viggle and worked very well because it fit in well with Clorox's goal of making bleach relevant to young adults and because The Bachelorette is extremely social and it really did lend itself to additional experiences with social media and Viggle," Midha says.
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