EXCLUSIVE: Why Do TV Advertisers Continue to Overlook this Mobile Marketing Opportunity?

The following is a guest contributed post by Cliff Holsenbeck, Product Management Director, iconectiv.

Not so long ago, tech industry observers guaranteed marketers that we’d soon get the best of both worlds on our TV screens, one that would allow consumers to view content on a big display from the comfort of the living room couch with the ability to interact with the content in a bi-directional “TV commerce” experience.

For advertisers, this meant the possibility of selling the clothes the actors are wearing on a popular TV show to viewers in real-time, or enabling consumers to order products from a commercial via a simple click of the button on their TV remote.

This sounded like a dream come true.   A vast TV audience with the potential of responding to advertising in real-time without dialing an 800 number and speaking to a company representative.

The dream didn’t quite come to pass, unfortunately.  “Smart TVs” may come to mind but most consumers just use its capabilities for viewing YouTube videos online and binge-watching shows on popular over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix. Very little of the “smart TV” has been transformative in meeting the promise of interactive TV advertising.

But don’t look now – the answer has been staring you right in the face for years, and you’ve been staring back.

According to Deloitte, a large percentage of U.S. consumers watch TV with their smartphones within arm’s reach.  Most of us these days multi-task while watching TV – checking Facebook, emails or texts, or simply surfing the web to answer questions about the show or follow a Twitter feed.

So why aren’t TV advertisers and the media companies themselves trying to create a quick and easy connection between a consumer’s smartphone and the content currently playing on the TV?  The simplest solution is offering SMS text codes, or common short codes as they’re known in the telecom industry.

Just imagine you’re watching a commercial for a pizza chain and the announcer says, “Call now and your second pizza is half off!”  Instead of having to offer a telephone number for a dozen pizza franchisees, the chain simply displays the 5- or 6-digit short code and says, “Text us now!”

Bingo!  With images of the piping hot pizza dripping with cheese still fresh in your mind, you instantaneously receive a text back with a link to the pizza chain’s site for online ordering from a franchise near you.

The additional benefit is that the consumer has now opted in for future texts from your company.  That means you get to continue to ping that consumer with occasional offers on their smartphone (don’t overdo it!) until – or if – they opt out.

With all the money spent on TV advertising, it’s almost an act of marketing malpractice that brands aren’t incorporating a short code in every single TV ad to secure an immediate consumer response and gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns in real-time.  Or even better, adjusting campaigns by region and content according to how much the audience – and specific type of audience – responded to the text.

Considering texting is the most popular smartphone app or feature for 97 percent of U.S mobile users (Pew Research), this method can deliver dynamic, real-time brand engagement within seconds of seeing a TV ad to huge swaths of an engaged audience.

Funny thing is, the TV industry itself has already proven that short code messaging works.

“American Idol” first set the pace, using short code messaging for years with great success and still offering text voting for its huge audience.  One of the latest reality TV series to incorporate text voting is “You the Jury,” hosted by Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, which allows viewers at home to act as jurors after hearing a case (think “Judge Judy” meets “American Idol”).

The smartphone/TV connection is a proven commodity.  And short code texts offer a simple, cost-effective way for marketers to spur consumer engagement during their TV advertising and for media companies to show their worth.