Pondering Multi-Screen Media Planning

Multi-screen media campaigns – campaigns delivered through television, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and pretty much anywhere else a screen can be embedded – have captured our attention for a while now. We welcome the potential for additional campaign lift by distributing a campaign across these screens in such a way that we’re reaching the same consumer no matter where she might be looking. This kind of strategy becomes ever more important as the consumption of television declines. According to comScore, for example, the average U.S. Internet user now spends about 50 percent more time engaging on social networking sites than watching TV. Studies have also found that anywhere from 60 to 86 percent of people use their mobile device while also watching TV. Of course, digital ads have the additional benefit of deeper tracking and enabling the kind of audience engagement that advertisers so actively seek.

Just how tricky is multi-screen media planning, what do media planners need to be thinking about, and how is the planner involved in the overall process? These are the kind of questions media planners should be thinking about.

The Evidence

In January 2012, video delivery platform Videology published a white paper in which it found that multi-screen campaigns provided nine times brand lift. The 2012 Super Bowl brought the new successful phenomenon of launching ad campaigns on YouTube. Automotive advertisers have embraced multi-screen campaigns; for example, Chevrolet’s campaign promoting its new Volt through Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360. Adidas ran a video-centric multi-screen campaign that increased its YouTube view by 26 times. Here are examples of some other successful multi-screen campaigns in recent times.

It’s All About Engagement

It’s not that television advertising no longer works; it’s just changing dramatically. In a blog post on the Harvard Business Review, Shiv Singh, global head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages, writes about “TV Ads’ New Digital Role.” He sees TV facing its greatest changes ever, mostly due to engagement factors summarized as:

  • Ads will need to have more accountability for the engagement they bring.
  • Television ads will be the gateway (movie trailer-style) to the engagement, driving people to more active engagements, rather than trying to accomplish whole (and user-passive) storytelling in a mere :30 spot.
  • Location-based technologies paired with mobile connectivity enables (Singh says “forces”) a greater degree of engagement than TV could ever hope to deliver.

With engagement as the goal, the whole media strategy needs to be thought of as a succession of deliveries and not just a reformatting of the same creative for different platforms. If, as Singh postulated, the traditional TV ad is the trailer, ads on the other screens need to launch the engagement. And the means to deliver that may vary depending upon the time and place.

For example, knowing that users tend to multi-task on devices while watching TV, the media strategy should be coordinated and use day-parting to guide the user to the desired engagement by delivering a multi-screen experience. Analyze the data from multi-screen engagement drivers to understand how to refine future buys.

Perhaps even more powerful than brand lift, the engagement can lead to a more direct and ongoing relationship with that consumer…and with the device of her choosing.

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Always a Brave New Frontier

As with all the ever-evolving new media, multi-screen media planning presents new challenges and questions. For example, if a publisher claims to reach your target audience via multiple devices, be mindful to request by-device duplication and penetration stats. Don’t assume that the same person who frequents a site on their desktop is going to download an app or vice versa. Media planners who see multi-screen opportunities, particularly complex ones that will require advanced planning and several different production components, need to speak up and make their vision known.

Today’s media planners can be just as critical to the ad campaign development process as the creative director. That’s the situation our fast-paced, ever-evolving industry has created.

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