Technology

Second-Screen Green Remains Scarce

Apps are tricky to monetize, but potential is growing 4/15/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

As programmers and advertisers move
through this year’s upfronts, discussions on
how to fit second-screen or social TV apps into
larger TV and digital ad buys are likely to play a larger
role than ever before.

“It is still kind of a nascent area, but a huge ecosystem
is developing. And as we get into the upfronts, there
will be some very interesting discussions,” says Brian
Stoller, leader of digital strategy for North America
at Mindshare. Stoller is particularly interested in the
idea of brands working with the networks on products
“to build content for the second screen that complements
regular TV programming.”

Much of this is predicated on the notion that secondscreen
apps can significantly increase the value of regular
TV spots by delivering additional ads to an app on a
mobile device. “The ad that is running on-air to create
awareness of a brand [can now be tied] to a second screen
that in effect makes the TV ad clickable,” says Deborah
Brett, VP of mobile sales at Viacom Media Networks. “It
provides an immediate path to engagement and action.”

Some of this is already working and is quite lucrative.
Shazam, which has about 90 million U.S. users, has
done more than 200 second-screen ad campaigns with
more than 140 companies, notes David Jones, Shazam
executive VP of marketing.

“We have done multiple campaigns with all six of the
top agencies and are doing six- and seven-figure campaigns
with major brands,” Jones says. “The renewals are
accelerating and the deal sizes are growing. If it wasn’t
working, they wouldn’t be renewing these deals.”

But advertising agency executives and programmers
caution that many of these efforts remain in their infancy
and that a number of problems need to be overcome before
second-screen apps become a major component of
TV ad sales or annual upfront negotiations. These problems
include relatively small usage; the lack of a unified
measurement between TV and mobile; the cost of developing
apps for many different operating platforms; and
the relatively experimental nature of these buys.

Second-screen efforts also tend to involve the creation
of custom content, a potentially costly and timeconsuming
process that can involve
many different people—
show producer, network, ad
agencies and the advertisers.

“There is no agreed-upon system
to buy against it, and is currently
more driven by brands that
want to experiment rather than
having a set budget,” says Jason
George, CEO of Telescope, which
works with a number of shows
including American Idol to improve
audience engagement.

Measurement and the ability
to monetize content on various
platforms is another key
issue. Marc Debevoise, executive
VP of entertainment, news
and sports at CBS Interactive,
considers it much more lucrative
to monetize full episodes
online than it is on mobile. As
a result, CBS makes full episodes
of its primetime shows
available the next day online,
but users of its new CBS App
do not get access until after the C7 ratings window
closes, eight days after the show aired on TV.

“If there was one measurement system and we could
monetize all of these platforms, then there would be no
reason for complex windows,” says Debevoise.

Still, some progress is being made. While unified ratings
for TV, online and mobile are a year or more away, improved
social media metrics are providing a way of selling
the engagement these apps create. “Social media doesn’t
replace ratings, but it brings a different dimension” that
can boost the value of a spot, says Ben Carlson, president
and co-creator at Fizziology, which analyses social media
activity for advertisers. “A lot of smart agency people realize
that not all ratings points are created equal.”

Some broadcasters and cable channels are consolidating
their apps, which should help boost usage. CBS
is planning to incorporate the features of its secondscreen
CBS Connect app into its recently launched
CBS App that offers streaming of full episodes, according
to Debevoise.

Likewise Viacom is starting to unify its apps around
channel brands, says Brett. Although a number of
show-specific apps will continue, “the goal is for fans
to have a single destination for everything,” she says.

Groups of programmers are also coming together to
back second-screen apps covering hundreds of channels.
News Corp., NBCUniversal and Viacom, along
with Zeebox and many broadcast groups, are working
with ConnecTV to develop second-screen applications
for local news and programming.

Consumer electronics companies like LG are also
working to simplify the technology to tie the TV with
mobile devices and other screens so that it is easier to
develop apps and sync up content between devices,
notes Tim Alessi, director of new product development
for LG USA . “We are working on putting a platform in
place to support innovation,” Alessi says, pointing to
LG’s support of the Smart TV Alliance and other efforts
to simplify app creation.

Second-screen app providers are also working to
come up with new ad opportunities. GetGlue recently
launched a “Promoted Entries” product that allows
sponsored content on top of the GetGlue feed.

ConnecTV has launched its Ad Sync network, which
allows brands to buy specific words such a “back to
school.” When the phrase occurs during television programming,
an ad might appear on the second-screen
app for a retailer like Home Depot.

“Brands are investing tens of billions of dollars in TV
advertising,” says Stacy Jolna, chief marketing officer of
ConnecTV. “By putting a small percentage of that into
the second screen, they have the ability to activate that
investment in TV advertising.”

E-mail comments to gpwin@oregoncoast.com
and follow him on Twitter: @GeorgeWinslow

 

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