Mobile's Fast Track to First Screen

Joe Gillespie
by Joe Gillespie 02 Dec, 2013

The reigning "first screen," television, still has its place in the lives of consumers, but that place is usually restricted to the living room. After all, it is not easy to carry a 42-inch flat screen around. This means TV cannot be the primary host to the modern Web user's social life. Today, much of the content we engage with is about us - exemplified by the fact that almost 70 percent of mobile phone owners between the ages of 18-29 access social media on their devices, according to Pew Research. Limiting branded content to the TV screen simply won't work, but mobile devices are a different story.

Consumers access video on their smartphones, of course, but more often, the content consumed is directly related to their lives. Instagram, Foursquare, Vine, Snapchat, and even mobile-only dating platforms like Tinder, are popping up - catering to the need and desire of coordinating, socializing and connecting with other human beings constantly, and on the go. Since this content is so intimately about us - our location, our desires, our relationships, our likes and dislikes - it will soon be inevitable: phones are the first screen. TV, you're now playing second fiddle.

So how can brands take advantage of this shift in user behavior?

Whether or not one agrees that mobile is destined to be the "first" screen for delivering and consuming content, it is certainly growing as a crucial channel for advertisers and is rapidly becoming the linchpin for entire campaign strategies. In fact, eMarketer predicts that by 2017, mobile will account for nearly four of 10 global digital ad dollars. This shows that brands are thinking mobile first...because audiences are acting mobile first.

How do brands reach audiences effectively through mobile? Obviously not all audience activation efforts are created equal. Tucking a lone "Like us on Facebook" into a commercial or print spot no longer qualifies as "social media integration" in advertising. Successful campaigns aren't those that treat audiences' close relationships with their mobile devices and social media as an afterthought; they're the ones that prioritize those things during upfront planning. They then get customers involved, interacting with the audiences in real time and on a one-to-one basis.

Here is a look at three brands doing social-mobile right:

1. Clear Channel

You may have never heard of Clear Channel Spectacolor, but if you've ever been to New York City's Times Square, you know their work. Spectacolor builds the ubiquitous digital billboards that define and illuminate the location. Beyond the flash and glitz, however, most advertisers weren't taking advantage of the billboard's complete features: social media and mobile integration, movement-recognition technology and 3-D displays. To remedy this, Clear Channel ran an in-house promotion called "Times Square Dunk Tank" that used the full suite of features available with their digital billboards.

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The billboards enticed the thousands of people who pass through Times Square each day to take to Twitter and vote via hashtag on which character in the ad they wanted to see get "dunked." From there the audience was able to "physically" interact with the billboard via the latest in movement-recognition technology by collectively maneuvering a digital beach ball displayed on the screen to its digital target and "dunk" the chosen character. In short, Clear Channel Spectacolor used Twitter to activate their audience and motivate them to interact with the display in a way that was unique and memorable. It was an impressive display of the billboard's capabilities and shows how social media and mobile are combining to turn advertising into entertainment.

2. Gillette

Gillette made a splash of its own in Sweden with a groundbreaking campaign based on its "Venus" line of razors. The company wanted to encourage Swedes, who are more likely to cover up and forego shaving during the long Nordic winters, to keep up maintenance year round. Gillette needed a promotion that would keep consumers engaged with the brand during the months when its products were less necessary and create a catalyst to drive sales during the annual lull.

Enter Gillette's "Tag the Weather" campaign. By tapping into the GPS technology on their audience's mobile devices and marrying that with their Instagram accounts, consumers were prompted to upload pictures that showed how brutal the local winter weather was for a chance to win a much-needed vacation to Miami. Gillette also partnered with a prominent Swedish etailer to set up a streamlined buying process to give campaign participants a fast and simple way to buy the product when it was fresh on their minds. By the end of the campaign, Gillette saw a 100 percent increase in razor sales in general and a 500 percent sales increase for the "Venus" product specifically.

3. Dove

Not to be outdone, Dove followed suit with a smart campaign based around their "Real Women Everywhere" initiative in order to raise more awareness for its overall social mission, an important pillar of the brand. By integrating Facebook functionality with an interactive billboard promotion, Dove prompted its live audience to engage with the display via their Facebook accounts and submit photos to be integrated into the campaign in real time. The audience became the focal point and Dove raised the awareness it needed for its campaign.

Technology and content are getting more personal and individualized by the day. This trend is pushing mobile devices to the forefront for both advertisers and content creators. As this shift continues, successful companies will be those who build their marketing strategies around the consumer and engage them throughout.

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