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Blurred Lines: Divisions Between Second Screen and First Are Becoming Cloudier

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Is the second screen becoming the first screen? If so, how can content publishers and broadcasters take advantage of the multitude of screens that are being use? Those were the questions posed by Lindsey Turrentine from CNET, who opened today’s 2nd Screen Summit in Las Vegas with an interview with Rob Gelick, CBS Interactive’s senior video president and general manager of digital platforms.

“We’ve found that the second screen is really the formula for keeping dialog going around our shows is the second screen,” said Gelick, who also keynoted this year’s Steaming Media East in New York in May. “For instance, the Grammys isn’t just one big night…it’s really a three-month long event on the second screen.” On the night of the event, the main content moves to the television while people stay involved with the backstage content on the second screen, he said.

For popular CBS series like How I Met Your Mother and Big Brother, producers create content for the second screen at the same time they’re creating the version that ends up on the broadcast. Gelick said nine CBS shows regularly produce companion content that typically runs first during the show’s initial broadcast, then moves to on-demand on all devices.

So what’s not working? Gelick said that they haven’t been able to emphasize second-screen video content as much as they’d like, since it’s too distracting for live viewers to go between video screens during the broadcast. On the other hand, viewers who DVR the content can pause on their main screen and dive into the companion video content on their mobile or tablet.

As for what the future holds, Gelick said that CBS Interactive is working to “break down the fourth wall” in terms of talent and story lines, and that CBS is fortunate to have actors and other talent that have been willing to take part in creating that content.

Turrentine asked about wearable screens, which gave Gelick the chance to promote the show Intelligence, a show that addresses those technologies in its scripts, but that second-screen content designed specifically for devices like Google Glass is a ways off.

Video Advertising Driving Engagement

YuMe and Gracenote announced today a collaboration that will use automatic content recognition (ACR) to deliver customized ads to viewers' mobiles and tablets, including video ads. In his presentation at 2nd Screen Summit, YuMe's Bob Hall acknowledged that this is one of many ACR-based initiatives, but that Gracenote's ACR will integrate with YuMe's SDK to allow for live video ad insertion on companion devices, while most others focus on display ads, and that it integrates first-party data taken from viewers' own devices about their own viewing preferences.

This comes partially in response to the fact that tablet users show the highest unaided ad recall lift of any devices, and so second-screen ACR is a crucial way to target TV viewers during or immediately after TV broadcasts. Advertisers can run mobile video and TV ads simultaneously or subsequently on the second screen after the ad runs on TV. Publishers and app developers can insert cues or use ambient data to then create trigger points that will launch such ads.

What does that mean at a time when CPMs are dropping for all types of advertising except video? "The difference we see with video is that there is a scarcity of quality mobile video ad content online," said Brent Gaskamp, senior vice president of corporate development for Videology during the panel "Advertising Update: From 2nd Screen to all Screens." "From a brand perspective, when you want high-quality content, they're willing to pay a premium for it," an assertion that was seconded by Ogilvy London's Will Harvey.

Gaskamp says Videology has seen a shift of TV ad dollars to other platforms, thanks in no small part to automation (programmatic ad buying) and 15-18-month projections that help brands feel comfortable that their ads will reach the eyeballs they want to hit. More than 50% of all the campaigns Videology works with are "device agnostic," however, and so brands aren't yet necessarily buying second screen in isolation.

Part of the challenge comes from a shift in mindset and terminology, said Mass Relevance chief strategy officer Jesse Redness. As mobile devices proliferate, the term "click-through" doesn't mean much, and "touch-through" doesn't mean anything, so brands need to think about touchpoints and engagement, which are of course more difficult to measure.

In the end, it's still all about driving viewers back to TV, said moderator Chuck Parker, chairman of the 2nd Screen Society. Redness said he believes we're very close to having metrics that can measure the sort of "closing of the circle" that second-screen content and experiences are designed to achieve. He added, however, that we shouldn't expect a single, standardized metric to emerge in the short term.

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