Linked multiscreen ads take off

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Consumers can expect to see more linked messages in 2015, with ads on TV being backed up by an increasing number of reminder and reinforcement messages on digital devices, including desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablets, predicts WPP-owned global research agency Millward Brown in the first of its annual Digital & Media Predictions, released yesterday in Sydney.

Second-screen advertising synching typically uses listening technology to identify when an ad has run on TV and immediately deliver advertising messages to run on digital devices. This technology is now being offered by a number of companies such as Civolution, Infectious Media, Mediasynched and WyWy.

And in 2015 Millward Brown expects more advertisers to take advantage of the opportunity to target their online and social media advertising in this way.

“Second-screen synching isn’t just about media efficiency and hitting consumers with multiple messages, it’s also a new storytelling opportunity that allows brands to add extra value for people who just watched their TV spot,” says UK-based Millward Brown global brand director Duncan Southgate.

“We expect it to grow rapidly in 2015.”

“Marketers should be encouraged that an increasing number of consumers now use multiple devices while watching TV, sometimes to learn more about the shows and commercials they see but also to perform other tasks while the TV is on.”

Millward Brown’s 2014 global AdReaction study shows that 35% of all screen time involves simultaneous usage of TV and a digital device. However, consumers are far more likely to be using their digital screen for activity unrelated to TV. Currently, just 11% of multiscreen users proactively use a digital device to follow up on a TV ad, thus marketers will be keen to use the new technology to make the cross-screen connection on behalf of consumers, and thereby reinforce the power of their broadcast messages.

In addition to improving the effectiveness of messaging, second-screen synching also allows brands to initiate a more in-depth dialogue with consumers. For example, an automotive ad on TV could be followed up just seconds after the commercial ends with an offer to arrange a test drive, or a story line from the advert could be continued online with a call to action delivered direct to mobiles and tablets. Auto brand Hyundai is using this technology today.

Second-screen synching can be used to hijack competitor ads by running targeted digital counter-claims at the same time as a competitor’s TV ad. It also offers complementary brands the chance to cross-promote products; viewers of a TV ad for vodka might, for example, subsequently see an ad for a suitable mixer drink on their digital device.

Synching technology seems likely to have broad appeal across categories from financial services to FMCG and looks set to become a standard part of the marketing toolkit for smart advertisers. The true impact of this form of targeting will be measured over the coming year as its use increases, and advertisers understand the impact on brand and behaviour.

“With media channels evolving at breakneck speed, marketers are well served by exploring new innovations – like second-screen synching – and the unknown,” Southgate sais. “Millward Brown’s annual Digital & Media Predictions helps marketers navigate what’s next.”

This is the first of Millward Brown’s Digital & Media Predictions for 2015. The full set of 2015 predictions will be released in January 2015. How prescient were we in 2014? For a retrospective review of our 2014 predictions, visit

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