So Where Are We Really at with Advertising on the Second Screen?

Advertising on the Second ScreenMany media buyers are confused by the hype surrounding the second screen. While everyone recognises the potential for deeper engagement and more granular targeting, the reality is that few of the services have managed to grow to the point where they’ve become a worthwhile proposition for scale-conscious brand advertisers. That doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on the companies in the space – it’s still very early days – but it does pose problems for agencies and advertisers who are keen to get their hands dirty with the second screen.

That said, over the last year or so we have seen a handful of companies strike out ahead of the pack – at least in terms of advertising — and while 2012 hasn’t quite been ‘the year of the second screen’, it has been interesting in that we’ve seen some exciting new partnerships and experimentation taking place (the second screen’s undergraduate years, perhaps?).

The three companies who have stood out, certainly in advertising terms, are Zeebox, DG/Mediamind and Shazam. There are of course others like Twitter and Facebook, but thus far they haven’t created advertising services that are clearly positioned as services designed to sync with TV services and add value to TV advertising (no word from the Big G in this space yet either, although Google TV’s developer page does have a section for second screen app development).

DG MediamindDG and MediaMind

DG and MediaMind’s core business is advertising technology, so they’ve taken an approach that fits the second screen into their wider offering.

  • To ensure that the platform has the reach and scale needed by advertisers and agencies, DG and MediaMind are integrating multiple types of content recognition technologies from leading vendors into the platform. With so many options on the table, from audio fingerprinting and advanced video watermarking, Mediamind say their agnostic approach allows publishers and app developers the flexibility to build more relevant consumer experiences. It also means the platform can support synchronized ads in both live and time-shifted environments, like this trial with the O2 Dual Screen Case Study for Million Pound Drop, a UK game show.
  • DG and MediaMind are integrating synchronized second screen activity into agencies’ existing campaign monitoring services. The company believes it’s important to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of synchronized ads relative to TV Gross Rating Points (GRP), and existing online campaign metrics.
  • The company plans to provide the industry with transparent results on things such as trends on user engagement and adoption, to best practices for publisher implementations and campaign executions.

Shazam LogoShazam

Shazam has a user base of more than 250 million people in over 200 countries and in 33 languages and is still expanding into new markets. The company say they are continuing to build their database to encompass country-specific music, TV shows and brands. Shazam for TV is available in the US and the UK.

  • In the US, Shazam supports all nationwide television programming across 160 channels 24/7, so every TV show and event will have a second-screen experience providing more information about the show, music in the broadcast, tweets about the show, trivia, gossip / celebrity buzz, and links to more information, including the show’s official site.
  • Shazam also works with networks and show producers to ‘craft custom interactive experiences for tent-pole television events’. Most recently, this includes Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason games, and the Olympics in July/August. Previous shows and events include American Idol, the GRAMMYs, the Super Bowl, and many other events and shows.
  • Shazam say they have participated in over 140 brand TV advertising campaigns in the following countries: US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Australia. The company says those campaigns have worked well across a variety of industry verticals, including campaigns for Honda, Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, Unilever, General Mills, Sony Entertainment, and even financial organizations like Progressive Insurance.
  • Shazam handle their ad sales in house and the company has corporate headquarters in London, US headquarters in Palo Alto, and offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seoul. Campaign pricing to brands takes into account the reach of the campaign and the complexity of the second-screen interactive experience built by Shazam for our client and delivered to consumers within the Shazam App.



Zeebox has been one of the most prominent companies in the space and clearly believes that close relationships with broadcasters will be key to success on the second screen. This year the company has formed a variety of strategic parterships with broadcasters and has gone one step further in taking on investment from BSkyB, Viacom, Comcast and NBC Universal.

  • Ads on Zeebox are currently based around ‘zeetags’, which are generated by voice recognition software and are streamed down the side of the page (see VAN’s piece from earlier in the year for a more detailed explanation)
  • Zeebox has been integrated into Sky+’s iPad’s remote control.
  • Synchronized ads in Zeebox can of course be anything – a video, a coupon, an invitation to a test-drive, an interactive game, or just a sponsor message.
  • Zeebox is currently live in the UK and the US, and will be launching in Australia at the end of October.
  • Zeebox currently offer brands the opportunity to sponsor a show, series, genre or event. Sponsorship includes custom-branded widgets (polls, games, Twitter competitions, etc) on the show’s zeebox page, custom editorial zeetags linking out to sponsored content, and – for TV advertisers – synchronized ads in zeebox that are triggered by zeetags when the brand’s TV ad plays on the first screen.
  • Zeebox will soon be introducing standard-size display ads that can also be synchronized to TV ads. Pricing is currently on a sponsorship package basis, starting at £100k. Shazam believes the market will move towards a new metric based on ‘engagement minutes’, which the company is currently developing together with agencies and broadcasters.
  • In the UK Zeebox’s inventory is represented by Sky Media.

Observers of the space might have noticed that there are a few companies you’d expect to see on here who have been left out. Many of the well known companies/products in the space were contacted for this piece — some didn’t reply and others explicitly said they weren’t in a position to talk about advertising at this point in time. If you know of a company successfully running brand campaigns on the second screen, please let us know and we’ll happily consider adding them to the list. Companies are listed in alphabetical order (sorry Zeebox).

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