By Caroline Burgess, Senior Account Manager, GingerMay PR

TV is struggling to hold consumer attention. When ad breaks start, viewers typically pick up a second screen device – such as a smartphone or tablet – which can significantly decrease their focus on the TV. Recent data from Nielsen shows that 84% of smartphone and tablet users surf the net while watching TV. For traditional TV advertisers, competing with multiple devices for consumer attention is a significant challenge and an effective solution is needed.

Cue TV ad syncing.

TV syncing appeals to the distracted nature of the second screen generation through a combination of the success of television advertising and the interactivity of smart products. The technology works by pinpointing the exact moment that a TV commercial airs, simultaneously serving a TV ad on the consumer’s mobile device. The ads served are part of a connected, consistent, and cross-channel marketing campaign that is designed to complement and support the TV commercial.

TV syncing is tailored for two different types of viewer – the distracted viewer and the inspired viewer. The distracted viewer is likely to be carrying out activity on a second screen that is completely unrelated to the ad, such as web surfing or checking social media sites. This makes the distracted viewer a challenge when it comes to engagement levels. The inspired viewer is more receptive and attentive to the TV ad, and is prone to visit sites or search for products related to the advertised product, making them more likely to convert.

Both types of viewer are most receptive within 90 seconds of seeing an advert on TV, meaning timing for synchronisation is crucial. Automated Content Recognition (ACR) uses the linear TV signal to detect the precise moment of broadcast, and for the duration of the TV ad – approximately 30 seconds – the online ad exchange runs the inventory bidding process. Impressions are then targeted to relevant viewers by running them through a probabilistic model.

Although activity takes place within a short time period – three minutes after the broadcast has aired – the effects of TV ad syncing can have a substantial impact. For inspired viewers, interaction with a brand that interests them is made easy. Instead of searching for relevant content themselves, they are presented with the opportunity to access it in one click. For advertisers, there is the opportunity to recapture the attention of the viewer, increasing engagement with the products and brand, while significantly shortening the path to conversion.

As smart devices continue to distract viewers from the television screen, TV syncing offers brands the ability to re-engage their audiences and capitalise on multiscreen usage. With multinational brands such as Nissan, Hyundai and L’Oreal already putting it to the test, this new technology is shaping up to be the future of TV advertising.