Second screen usage during commercials highlights social media’s potential


Second Screen Television Ads

Quick, what’s the first thing you do when a commercial comes on the television. The standard answers without thinking about it are: flip through the channels, go to the restroom, or get up to get a drink.

Now, think about it more thoroughly. What do you really do when a commercial comes on. The answer for many Americans and people around the world is that they grab their smartphone or tablet and do things there until the show comes back. In fact, many people are using their smartphones or tablets while they’re watching television.

It’s the way of a mobile, always-connected digital world. Active social media users are checking their feeds during commercials. People check their email. They play games. They check out something on the internet that they thought about during their show. Some just do, well, something, anything, because it’s the right time to do it.

Most businesses are not taking advantage of this trend. We saw a glimpse of it during the Super Bowl when many advertisers read their market research and determined that they should use their spot to highlight social media hashtags, but it was isolated. Businesses aren’t moving forward as quickly as they should.

There are two real takeaways from this trend. First and most obviously, advertising on social media is a must, particularly on Facebook. Compared to television ads, they are pennies on the dollar and they’re reaching people at the intended time – during the entertainment mindset. This is what has made television so effective as an advertising venue and it’s what contributes to the effectiveness of social media advertising, just at a much less expensive scale.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem before you give real thought to it, social media is the most cost-effective way to reach your television audience. It sounds weird, but it’s true. It’s not just while they’re watching television. When was the last time you road on a train or a bus? What are people doing when they’re waiting for a plane? At restaurants, when you’ve put the menu up and finished placing your order, you may talk to the people around you or you might pull out your mobile device while waiting for the food. It’s what we do when we have nothing to do and social media advertising is the key to reaching these people.

The second takeaway is this – businesses should be addressing people through television to interact at that moment on their mobile devices. People are on them. Use that knowledge. I’ll be very impressed the first time I see a television ad that says something like, “You probably have your tablet or smartphone in your hand right now, so check out what we’ve done for you at…”

That would get their attention because you’d be talking directly to them. Even the people who aren’t on their device at that particular moment have a chance of grabbing theirs from the coffee table and checking out what you’re doing simply because you asked in a way that makes them feel connected. It’s basic psychology that is not being used today. Will you take advantage of the trends?

  1. Hi Louie,

    I would add “hit the mute button” to that list of what people do when a commercial comes on. I’m always surprised when an advertiser doesn’t convey their entire message visually, but many don’t. Thank you for an interesting article.


  2. “businesses should be addressing people through television to interact at that moment on their mobile devices” – Exactly!

    That’s what digital advertising sync’d to live TV spots on the second screen does: engage with the viewer through a more interactive channel to complement the TV spot’s message. We’ve seen high engagement and increased performance with such sync’d ads.

  3. “Will you take advantage of the trends?”
    I will for sure and in such way that we’ll make advertising completely relevant
    to the user’s context, make it feel native, immersive or whatever buzz word you would like to use here. Blending advertising across multi-platform in a transmedia storytelling way is what should establish more relevant and authentic advertising.

    When looking to bring this relevance we should go back to the original meaning (etymology) of advertising “ad vertere”, which means “to turn the mind toward”… bringing eyeballs to a companion device where real-time complementing media is provided should enable a higher engagement rate = higher and measurable ROI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Techi's Special Newsletter

Newsletters are not just for grabbing attention. I promise to deliver the best disruptive technologies in your inbox once or twice a month.

You May Also Like