Second Screen Advertising

What Is Second Screen Advertising?

Second screen advertising drives customers to their second screens (smartphones, tablets) to access more content with the goal of viewing more advertising. Second screen advertising builds on the growing trend of multi-tasking, which is often a blending of entertainment and shopping. The key for advertisers is to create mobile ads and ad experiences that are relevant to first-screen content in order to capture more of the consumers' attention. 

Key Takeaways

  • Second screen advertising drives customers to their second screens (smartphones, tablets) to access content and view advertisements.
  • Second screen advertising builds on the growing trend of multi-tasking, which is often a blending of entertainment and shopping.
  • Second screen advertising can include contests advertised on the first screen, but the entry must be done via text message or SMS.

Multi-Level Marketing

How Second Screen Advertising Works

Many people watch television and its advertisements while also utilizing their second-screen devices. These second-screen devices can include:

  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Laptops and Computers
  • Web-enabled book readers

Second screen advertising builds on the multi-tasking trend of people scrolling their mobile devices—second screen—while watching a show or movie on TV—called the first screen. For example, someone might check the statistics of a baseball player while watching that team play a live game on TV. Others might comment on Twitter or a Facebook group in real-time about the plotline of a popular show while it's being broadcast. While watching a movie, someone might wonder where they saw one of the actors before, which leads them to a Google search on their mobile device to research the actor's filmography. All of this multi-tasking activity contributes to the growing trend of second-screen engagement.

Media companies have recognized the opportunity to offer extra content and experiences on mobile devices, which is designed to complement their content on TV. The digital marketing strategy can involve offering exclusive deals for those who go to their mobile device while the TV ad, show, or movie is running.

This call-to-action is used by advertisers to create a sense of urgency and boost engagement between potential consumers and the company's products. Second screen advertising can also be used by companies to build brand awareness by encouraging viewers to explore their website.

Consumers might also be directed to a landing page, which is a web page specifically designed to sell a product or service.

With the popularity of streaming shows, the first screen isn't always a TV but instead, a laptop or tablet might be the first screen, making a mobile phone the second screen.

Second Screen Advertising Market

Smartphone use has become widespread, with 81% of Americans owning a smartphone, according to Pew Research. Younger people or Millennials tend to use mobile devices predominantly. However, even shoppers who are directed to e-commerce sites to purchase products are part of the second screen market. is now one of the largest platforms for digital advertising since it ranks as the number two retailer in the world, second only to Walmart.

In the U.S., the percentage of media consumers who use a second screen while watching TV is growing fast, while in Asia and Africa, the percentage is similar or even higher. Some 70% of users stack content, meaning they look at unrelated content on their digital device and TV. However, more and more mesh content, meaning the content on their mobile devices complements the content on their TVs. Meshed content on second screens is an opportunity that advertisers and digital marketers would like to capitalize on.

Advertisers have increasingly moved away from simply interrupting the first screen content in an effort to direct consumers to the second screen. Instead, advertisers are developing strategies that combine both mediums with first and second screen advertising that builds off each other—enhancing the overall experience with the company and its products. As a result, the engagement time between the consumer and the advertiser can be increased, which boosts the chances of enticing the consumer to buy a product or try a service.

Examples of Second Screen Advertising

Although there are many types of advertising, the goal is typically to increase engagement with the viewer or direct them to a call to action. Below are a few ways that companies can use second screen devices for both advertising and engagement.

Contests, Promotions, and Discounts

Contests can be advertised on-screen, but the entry must be done via SMS or SNS (text messages). Such ads may offer coupons or discounts to viewers who respond on social media, sending them to a website or to download apps that sync with the television program.

Ads with Specific Themes

Companies can tie their advertising to play off of a pop culture reference or during a live show. For example, a Clorox ad on social media featuring a canister of cleaning wipes carried the words "A Canister Always Pays Its Debts," a reference to the Lannister family from Game of Thrones.

Live Tweeting

Second screen promotion doesn't only include the sale of products. It can also be used to promote a show and increase its fanbase. Twitter can be used to display tweets about the program at the bottom of the TV screen.

Twitter performed a study, which showed that 61% of its users want to see tweets about a show from its actors. Shows that had an actor or cast member live-tweet during the show's broadcast saw a boost of 64% in engagement on Twitter versus shows that didn't live-tweet. Typically, when a show is on air, the show's Twitter followers tend to increase. However, when the cast is live-tweeting during the show, the Twitter follower rate for the show jumps by another 15%.

Also, second screen interventions can range from companion app ads to sponsored tweets, or Facebook posts that are displayed at specific times and in specific regions to capture the audience that is watching a broadcast.

Article Sources
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  1. Pew Research Center. "Mobile Fact Sheet." Accessed Sept. 13, 2020.

  2. Forbes. "The World’s Largest Retailers 2020: Walmart, Amazon Increase Their Lead Ahead Of The Pack." Accessed Sept. 13, 2020.

  3. "Study: Live-Tweeting lifts Tweet volume, builds a social audience for your show." Accessed Sept. 13, 2020.