Tech viewpoint on multiscreening
A view from Miles Lewis

Tech viewpoint on multiscreening

Attention is today's biggest challenge in an always-on digital world. Consumers' attention is being pulled in multiple directions, with multiple devices vying for share.

According to last year’s Ofcom report, the average UK household still spends four hours per day watching TV – but now that time is shared between watching TV, reading e-mail, Facebooking, Tweeting, Pinteresting and myriad other things. As smartphones and tablets continue to proliferate, multiscreening will continue to increase, dividing our attention even more.

What does this mean for traditional advertising? Well, TV advertising isn’t going away. During 2013, brands spent more than £3.7 billion on TV advertising in the UK (source: Group M), which was an increase year on year and roughly 26 per cent of total adspend. That’s billions of pounds spent on hopes that the ads will rise above the daily clamour for people’s attention.

So we come here to praise the TV ad, not to bury it. The digital age can actually be a blessing for brands that still leverage the unparalleled reach of TV. Recent studies by NPD Group show that one of the top three activities people do while watching TV is researching the products they see advertised. This offers brands an opportunity to leverage technology to turn passive viewers into impulse shoppers.

Smart devices are opening doors for brands, with mobile tech such as audio-content recognition giving consumers a chance to use their phone or tablet to easily identify what they are watching and go straight to the product that interests them, without having to remember a URL.

Why not create a mobile-compatible element that allows people to bookmark the brand?

Brands can turn the multiscreen competition for attention into a multiplatform, cohesive campaign – be it on TV, radio or in the cinema – if they focus on keeping the integration relevant. For instance, in a typical first-quarter campaign encouraging people to book their summer holidays, why not create a mobile-compatible element that allows people to use their phone to bookmark the brand and explore holiday packages while they are in the commuter crush the next morning? Or, for campaigns promoting spring fashions, why not include a "find the closest retailer" element that uses the phone’s geolocation feature – or even enable people to order fashions from the ad straight from their tablet?

From exclusive mobile-only offers to 360-degree interior views of the latest model of a car, the second screen can be a complement to TV rather than a competitor, inviting consumers into a conversation that continues well after the 30 seconds have finished. In the battle for consumer attention, it’s time for brands and agencies to look at technology as an asset rather than an assassin, and use the devices that people love to extend the interaction in a relevant, meaningful way.

Miles Lewis is the vice-president, advertising sales at Shazam