I scream, you scream, we all scream for two screens

Two-screening is an emerging behaviour of TV audiences that is a head-scratcher for creatives producing TV campaigns. The ‘second screen’ refers to the device that you use other than the TV, while you watch TV. Think your smartphone, tablet or laptop computer that you start using as soon as an ad break starts. This creates a simple problem for agencies and brands creating TV spots – what do you need to put in an ad to pull people’s attention back to the TV to communicate your message?

Instead of viewing the second screen as a barrier to communication, some brands are engaging audiences by utilising the second screen to deliver additional content. Where the Twitter hashtag blazed the trail, now custom designed apps are being developed that are specific to particular networks or TV programs. A couple of examples are Yahoo’s Fango app that socialises TV for many Aussie TV networks and also the Cricket Live Australia app developed by Vodafone that uses functionality like Viewers’ Verdict to engage audiences watching the cricket this summer.

If done well, utilising the second screen by integrating a digital component to TV campaigns is a great strategy to engage an audience. The ideal is for a TVC to contain a compelling call to action that can be easily and instantaneously acted upon via the second screen. This year 717 million smartphones and 122 million tablets were shipped worldwide, with each of those figures set to double by 2016. It’s therefore pretty clear that delivering a digital component to TV campaigns via smart devices should be a focus area of agencies and brands going forward.

But what can you do to capture an audiences’ attention if a campaign’s brief or production budget doesn’t allow for second screen integration? A friend of mine who has managed some major TVC production assignments within one of Australia’s premier ad agencies had these three suggestions to tear people’s attention away from their devices and onto your ad:

Use a great voice-over
The iconic Victoria Bitter beer ads have this nailed. It makes me sit up, pay attention and go along on the VB journey for 30 seconds. An interesting voice-over or a well-written script can interest audiences and command attention for the duration of the spot.

Use a well-known sound-track
Try and use a track to convey your brand values but also that has broad appeal. Ideally you want to have a soundtrack that your audience will remember, or at the least get people thinking “hey, I like this song”. The classic ‘Tongue Ad‘ for Toohey’s Extra Dry used Benni Bennassi’s Satisfaction, a completely ridiculous song but one that you can’t get out of your head.

Use no copy at all
There are some ads out there that are clever in how they don’t use voice-over or copy to capture your attention. In my opinion the Bupa ‘Find a Healthier You‘ ads are some of the most compelling of 2012. I put it down to the fact that you actually need to pay attention to the ad to uncover the message, and that wistful soundtrack draws me in every time. For me this approach creates an incredible piece of visual communication that I can’t help but engage with.

It’s going to be interesting to see how brands and agencies adapt to us two-screeners out there and the extent to which accompanying digital channels are delivered through our devices.


(Ps. I wrote this post on my iPad in-front of the TV)


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