Try, try again: ITV and the value of the second screen

Alex Mann, OMD UK Digital Media Planner, gives a run-down of OMD UK’s first Mobile Deep Dive, presented by ITV.


Today OMD UK welcomed ITV in the first of our Mobile Deep Dive sessions. The topic of discussion was the latest buzzword craze in our industry; that of the second screen phenomenon. ITV did their best to cut through the jargon and gave us an insightful presentation on their approach to this.

ITV were happy to make fun of some of their earlier attempts at second screening – un-moderated twitter feeds during the live election debate, which were hilariously highlighted on ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ on the BBC (some not very nice tweets about our current Prime Minister!), as well as showcasing their functional, but clunky World Cup 2010 content. There were learnings and successes though, and Stephen Poole was keen to go on to illustrate the massive strides that they have made in the last 4 years since those initial forays into the space.

Seeing the value in the second screen, ITV persevered and conducted research to find where the value was for the broadcaster’s digitally savvy viewers, and in doing so they uncovered an interesting insight: content isn’t always king. In fact, viewers are not second screening to immerse themselves in ‘behind the scenes content’ and the like as much as we would think, but are instead more attracted to three second-screen subcategories: rewards, participation and curiosity. Consequently, ITV re-designed their website to be responsive to all screens/devices but, importantly, to maximise and complement these behaviours, which also thread through much of their relevant daytime programming site content and companion apps for peak shows like Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here.

X-Factor has been the strand where ITV have experimented most heavily with second screening, and the majority of their learnings come from ‘Ad-Sync’ (ITV’s second screen ad product) activity related to this show. ITV tailored their mobile experience to give the consumer power in participation: from flash votes to all-week gaming content, competitions to their ‘kicker’: the 5th Judge function via their X-Factor companion app. The show has faced fierce criticism in recent years due to perceived judging fraud, and the recent introduction of the 5th judge function has helped alleviate viewers’ concerns through deliberate and visible participation power, which drives massive engagement and dwell times.

By gamifying second screen advertising during ad breaks for entire 3 minute-long breaks, ITV have achieved some spectacular results. Fans of X Factor and other shows are interacting for averages of approximately 3.5 minutes during the week, and a massive 15 minutes during shows themselves. Domino’s Pizza teamed up with X Factor to create an in-app game which entailed flicking pizzas into a pizza box to win a discount voucher for those that completed the challenge. By the time the show ended, post-seeding of the Dominos game in-break, 2.5m pizzas had been flicked, and there was a 35% re-play rate!

The big question that stemmed from this talk about where the second-screen activity is headed was whether mobile web or companion apps would be the go-to arena for broadcasters looking to advance in this area. At the moment it remains to be seen which will dominate in future. Furthermore, some programmes, like World Cup broadcasts, X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent can drive serious engagement through an app experience but ITV felt that their drama strands did not lend well to the successes of other formats. For example: Downton Abbey, which is a ratings phenomenon, lacks a tailored second-screen approach for the reason that it does not fit well within any of ITV’s threefold approaches to the second screen. However, drama and second screening can work well, with AMC’s Walking Dead second-screen campaign driving particular applause Stateside – will ITV take notice and experiment with drama and second screening?

It was concluded that the second screen is a new advertising paradigm, full of opportunities and pitfalls, and I concur. ITV are learning like everyone else, and it will be interesting to see how this tactic will grow in the coming months leading into and during the World Cup.


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