As consumers watch the sharks circling in Discovery's Shark Week programming, chances are they have a smaller fin—or two—circling on their mobile devices as well.
About a third—35%—of screen time is "simultaneous use of TV and a digital device," according to a 2014 Millward Brown report. Of that, 14% is "meshing," or simultaneous use of the devices for related content. More important, however, is the fact that TV viewing is seen as more of a starting point, with digital devices being tapped to continue viewing tasks, according to the report. And yet, as a whole, marketers are still struggling with not only how to do mobile marketing but how to deploy and track their campaigns.
For Discovery and Shark Week, that can mean anything from simultaneous tweeting to live conversations with shark Finbassadors on Facebook, among other mobile experiences, while keeping track of what works and what doesn't.
Making It Work
It's been a while since mobile Internet usage overtook desktop usage as the preferred platform of choice, but that doesn't mean that it's any easier for marketers looking to reach out and interact with users. Their tasks are still the same: create engaging mobile sites, build user-friendly apps and deliver campaigns that not only make sense but also convert new customers from former prospects. More recently, marketers have added location-based marketing, surveys and research, and the use of analytics and personalized mobile marketing tasks to the mix.
This is why choosing the right mobile strategy and figuring out how to deliver it is crucial, says Adriana Waterston, senior VP-insights & strategy at Horowitz Research. "If you are going to engage in mobile marketing, then you have to consider which mobile platform or solution is going to work best for your audience, depending on the outcome you want to achieve," she says. The goal, of course, is to make it as easy to access and interact with for the user as possible—while not overwhelming the marketing team with a difficult-to-use platform.
"For a competition reality TV show, the mobile platform may serve as a complement to live viewing, where audiences can engage with the show, vote and interact with advertisers on their device even as they are watching the show. In this case, a custom mobile app for the show is clearly the right solution," Ms. Waterston says. "But for different kinds of content—take, for example, DIY or cooking content—mobile paid search or even a banner ad would be key, especially if it's location-based, so that it might pop up while a consumer is at Home Depot or the supermarket and drive engagement with the brand and its advertisers."
Another example of using mobile to expand the viewer experience is Discovery's use of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to enhance viewers' Shark Week experience. During Shark Week programming, the network prompts viewers to interact with other fans on mobile devices. They're also encouraged to post pictures to win prizes or to participate in a quiz. Using this, Shark Week sponsor Cold Stone Creamery is running Shark Week Frenzy, telling viewers to take a picture of their favorite Cold Stone Creation and upload it with #SharkWeekFrenzy for a chance to win a trip. At the same time, users can find Cold Stone locations or order online.
Mobile Platform Tips
Once marketers decide to expand their mobile efforts, marketing automation tools come into play. These tools handle the nuts and bolts, leaving marketers free to concentrate on content and strategy. Still, even with marketing automation, there are some rules and best practices to follow, say experts. One important tip: Don't try to automate everything immediately.
"It's easy for a small team to get overwhelmed and try to do too much too fast. MA tools make it easy for a small team to get more done, but you don't have to use every feature on the first day," says Adrienne Weissman, CMO of G2 Crowd, a business services and software review site that covers automation tools.
Another best practice: Make sure you know what you're trying to do and build metrics and measurement around those tasks. Marketing automation software and platforms are only as good as the effort that goes into creating content and ads, tracking their success and analyzing past campaigns to improve future campaigns.
Finally, don't forget about the actual viewers and what they want and need from mobile marketing that is designed to support television programming. As Ms. Waterston points out, TV is still, inherently, a lean-back, passive experience, even if the viewer is "leaning forward" to watch it on a mobile device.
For example, another Shark Week partner, Volkswagen, is promoting its new Golf SportWagen by running a Sharks ReScored campaign that includes another viewing experience, a mini-documentary on sharks that will also run on Discovery. Using prompts during Shark Week programming, the effort is encouraging viewers to go to SharksRescored.com to view the mini-documentary and play the "SportWagen or Shark" game. The microsite also uses eye-tracking technology to show how music affects users' perceptions of sharks.
Says Ms. Waterston: "People just don't want to work hard when they are watching TV. Mobile engagement needs to be fun, it needs to deliver entertainment or some other real value to the audience, and it needs to be easy or else it simply won't work."
Wednesday: The Future of Mobile May Not Look Like Apps
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