Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Second Screen and Beyond: The explosion of cross-device interactive video experiences

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We’ve all had that moment. Watching the game and wondering… what’s going on in the other game? Watching that movie, with that guy… what was he from? And until recently, we had to wait to find the answer. But now, there’s a tablet on your lap or a smartphone in your pocket, and you can hit ESPN and find out about the blowout in Kansas, or use IMDB to discover that that guy is Michael Ironside. That is the “second screen” in its most basic form.

Advertisers are intensely interested in this phenomenon. Most of the time, people are just noodling around with their phones while watching TV; but occasionally, they are doing something to enhance their viewing experience. That is what we’re going to talk about.


Fish Where the Fish Are: Use Existing Tools

The best second screen experiences use existing platforms because, in general, no one wants your app. Here’s an example. There’s a guilty pleasure of a program called House Hunters International, in which vapid, spoiled caricatures look for overseas lodgings. Michael Ian Black and John Hodgman started live-tweeting the show, eventually moving their snark to the less restrictive Tumblr platform. The comics inspired thousands of followers to join in and poke fun at the show. Hodgman and Black demonstrated that, with a decent following and quality content, they could create a great, albeit unsanctioned, second screen experience for their fans.

Audi and the ABC Family hit Pretty Little Liars went one further—they made the second screen an integral part of the experience, again leveraging a solid following on existing social media platforms. The automaker teamed up with the show’s producers to release unique, Liars-related content via Snapchat, the popular ephemeral messaging app. Audi used Snapchat to send photos, clues, polls, and more to the show’s fans. The campaign was promoted via targeted sponsored tweets to the show’s socially savvy fanbase; a feedback loop saw screenshots of Snapchat content posted back to Twitter, generating more Snapchat followers for Audi.

Did it work? According to data reported by Huge, the agency that masterminded the campaign, the answer is an emphatic yes. Audi Snapchat followers went from 10,000 to 125,000; as many as 75,000 views were reported on a single Snap; and the campaign racked up 487 million Twitter impressions.

Second Screen for Healthcare

The potential for second screen and multiscreen campaigns is clear. The question is how can healthcare industries make use of it? To answer this question, we must think of the goals of a second screen campaign. And those goals, in essence, are similar to the goals of the Audi campaign referenced above. Audi used its second screen campaign to add additional content and context to broadcast material, while generating positive sentiment toward their brand.

The limits of broadcast advertising are clear for healthcare marketers, particularly those in the pharmaceutical business. The nature of the medium allows for relatively little information on the product and its uses because of the preponderance of risk and safety information that must be presented (and rightly so). If we could just get these patients online, they could learn a lot more about our products, what they do, who they’re for, and how to get help paying for them. 

Audio recognition apps like Shazam offer an interesting possibility, especially for patients who have “‘raised their hand” and expressed interest in a condition or product. The weakness of these apps is similar to what sunk QR codes as a marketing tactic in the US: They just aren’t convenient enough—or prevalent enough— to make an impact in the healthcare market until they’re built into the OS.

So we could replicate the approach Audi took with Pretty Little Liars, and extend and alter it to suit our clients. The key success factors in that campaign were good content, and use of existing social media platforms. Again: no one wants another app! Use the platforms your audiences are using.

What’s Next?

We’ve spoken about second screen primarily in the context of broadcast TV and mobiles, but it goes beyond that. Second screen also means a physician looking up information on a mobile while the patient chart is on a desktop display. It can mean augmented reality technology that reveals something new when you view video content via your smartphone camera. Second screen is a mobile device communicating with a big screen display via NFC, triggering targeted content.

Imagine this: A patient walks into the physician’s office. He waves his mobile device in front of a display panel, which brings up his information. He quickly adds any updates or notes, new insurance, etc., and sits down, all checked in. Moments (OK, 20 minutes) later, his mobile chirps. Time to see the doctor! She prescribes a new medication for him and sends the authorization and prescription via her tablet. Because he has opted in to a service, the patient gets an automatic notification from the manufacturer offering support and education services. At home, he accesses his HDTV via Bluetooth connectivity on the phone and watches a few minutes of educational content on the big screen.

This is where we’re headed. In a few years we won’t even be talking about second screen; it will be all around us, like oxygen. Fluid transfer of information among display ports will just be the patient’s and consumer’s expectation. And our industry can play a huge role in helping to mediate that flow and in adding value to each context in use. 


About the Author: Tim R. Garde is the Chief Operating Officer of Calcium. He is relentless in his pursuit of excellence in life sciences communications. Tim couples decades of experience in brand launches, patient communications, healthcare professional initiatives, payer strategies and retail distribution with a passion for digital innovation as a way to improve patient outcomes. Above all, Tim believes that a team-focused, collaborative approach allows team members to shine, and delivers the best value and quality to his clients.
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