One Screen, Two Screens, We All Scream for Multi-Screens

multiscreenbreakingbadIn the past 10 days, I believe we’ve seen the pinnacle of screen convergence. The concept of first screen, second screen and–more recently–third screen has been around for a while. It’s not a zero sum game anymore, though; brands can win, broadcasters can win, digital & social media can win, and most importantly, the consumer always wins.

As the story goes, once upon the time, traditional TV networks like CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox were threatened by the cable networks, then by the Internet. The fear was displacement: if people could watch movies on cable or stream on demand, the TV networks worried they would be the ones to suffer.

What has happened is exactly opposite. TV networks have grown (this is especially true of CBS). Cable networks are creating brilliant original content with record ratings. On-demand players (especially Netflix and Amazon) are growing and now, the social networks are getting in the game, too.

Breaking Bad Delivers the Goods

This new ecosystem has evolved, with video serving as the connective tissue and many diverse companies benefiting. The conclusion of “Breaking Bad” is the best example to date.

As “Breaking Bad” delivered its highest ratings and a reported record price for advertisers to AMC, on-demand players like Netflix, Amazon and iTunes also benefited from the binge watching consumers engaged in to “prep” for the finale. And of course, both Twitter and Facebook experienced major bursts in “Breaking Bad” tweets, posts and commentary the night of the series finale. So truly everyone won, the creators, the distributors, the viewers and the advertisers.

Worlds Colliding… and Cooperating

Companies battling for the same digital dollars are recognizing that sometimes it is better to collaborate than to compete (sounds like Economics 101).

Twitter and CBS announced their partnership to utilize Twitter Amplify to showcase video clips and content from various CBS properties (disclosure, I previously worked for CBS Interactive) and make joint sales calls. A showcased sample application was a “60 Minutes in 60 Seconds” ad unit.

Prior to CBS, Twitter had already established partnerships with ESPN, Ford, AT&T, Heineken and many others. Then there is the newly minted National Football League deal to distribute football clips, sponsored by Verizon Wireless and other companies via Twitter. These activities illustrate the new distribution channels’ unique ability to play nicely with content creators on both the media and brand sides of the house. By incorporating a variety of video clips–from sports highlights to show promos and product showcases–Twitter has quickly created a new video distribution model that empowers users and delivers revenue, in conjunction with highly targeted advertising.

Facebook is trying to navigate the video path on multiple fronts, too. It plans to debut its long-expected video ad format that will attempt to move traditional TV dollars to Facebook. It has also been rumored to be trying to build partnerships with CNN, Fox Sports and others.

So What is a Marketer To Do?

As noted at last week’s Association of National Advertisers (ANA) conference, we are currently in a period of constant reinvention. The new mediums referenced above are but a few examples of how the market has unfolded in ways we would not have guessed just a couple years ago.
There are new ways to create and distribute content, with new social networks to plug into, to create fresh dialogue with audiences.

A brand’s job is to not see all of this as a zero sum game of the new versus the old, but to think through how all of these screens enhance and augment one another. Your job is to learn to use them together as a better way to connect with and market to consumers.

And In the End…

We, as consumers, seem to be the real winners. You want to watch Breaking Bad? It’s no longer about an appointment. It’s about Binging. Watch as much as you want, when you want to watch it.

Oh, and you can “talk” to your friends–however many you may want and wherever they may be–about it too. Not too “bad,” huh?

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