Marketers are closely tracking two trends at the intersection of tablets and TV — consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to watch TV shows, and they are use them while watching TV on the set.
Delivering more and better video ads via mobile devices is a natural response to the first, but the simultaneous usage trend is a tougher nut to crack. The solution may lie in advanced recognition technology.
First, let’s look at the numbers. Nielsen found in its most recent cross-platform report that about 40% of Americans use their tablets or smartphones while watching TV at least once a day. The good news is some viewers are often looking up information related to what they’re watching on TV. Nielsen found that 36% of people 35 to 54 and 44% of people 55 to 64 use their tablets to “dive deeper” into the show they’re watching, but others check email and Web surf during the commercials.
So consumers are multitasking at times, but are they really able to focus on both the TV and the tablet? Given that many studies show that multitasking well is a myth, some agency leaders have said that syncing technology that truly connects content on the TV with a mobile device might be the way to connect the dots across screens. There are benefits to seeing ads on TV and ads on a computer or other devices at the same time in terms of recall, intent to purchase and other vital metrics. But for this cross-platform advertising to benefit marketers, syncing needs to go beyond the social TV syncing that’s available today through apps. To take advantage of the simultaneous usage trend, syncing will need to be smarter and more real-time.
Companies like Enswers and Gracenote, in the advanced content recognition arena, offer interesting solutions for connecting content across screens. Enswers is an audio and visual recognition tool that can identify what’s being watched, and it recently inked a deal with Samsung to be used in smart TVs (I learned about the company from Ashley Swartz’scoverage on Beet.TV ). This sort of technology could become the key to the second screen business by linking TV content and ads to mobile devices.
Another deal worth watching is between Watchwith and Gracenote that brings Gracenote’s content recognition technology into Watchwith’s content syndication platform. This partnership also has the potential to help push forward syncing of content and ads between mobile devices and TVs.