3 people watching a TV on a brick wall

The Great Wall – How can OTT advertisers break through the disconnect with viewer engagements?

The reality is unless you’re running a single market, single channel, single call to action message campaign… you really don’t have an accurate view of attribution and ROI for your ad spend.

If you’ve ever stuck your head  into a marketing content strategy meeting you’d likely have heard a word that gets P&L owners and content teams frothing at its mention… “engagement”

Sure it’s one of the marketing buzzwords that gets thrown around by any marketing team worth their salt and even those that aren’t… But what really is engagement and why is it so important when creating and delivering commercial content?

MIT defined engagement as:

“the extent to which the viewer is focused on the experience being shown on the TV”

But, is this really the extent of the engagement taking place? 

Indeed, when we look at engagement we really should be taking into account viewer actions taken as a result of the content they’re engaging with. Following socials of actors or shows, tweeting about the show, looking for a product they saw in the content or an ad, looking up more information, sports odds research or betting.

The problem, herein, lies with how do we know what second screen activity is inspired by the content and advertising viewed? The great wall exists between the TV and the phone in the viewer’s hand.

If we return to the headline definition of engagement being; how focussed a viewer is on the experience being shown on TV, then the data is showing those creating and delivering content are on a colloquial hiding to nothing.

With over 90% of millennials and over 70% of the rest of us being shown to be using their second screen (i.e. their smartphone or tablet) whilst viewing TV content – be it streaming or traditional broadcast – the fight, it seems, for engagement is certainly an uphill battle. 

So how do we show attribution and effectiveness of ad spend when this great wall of disconnect exists?

The answer is to break down that wall! 

Call to actions with “search for xyz” or scan this QR code on screen (quick before it goes away!) are the first steps in this attempt. There are surely more elegant solutions that meet the viewer where they are rather than forcing new and tedious behaviour.

Whilst there are those purists still entrenched in the big 5 global content producers that want to fight this trend..

if i had a dollar for every time a media executive said to me “eyeballs on our content is paramount, anything that distracts viewers from “my” content is not for us”

There is an increasing cohort that has “seen the light” and realises the horse has bolted and it makes far more sense to embrace viewers behaviour than to try and stop it, change it, or reverse it.

Ok. Fine, but… How do we break down that wall?

The simple answer, that has been staring us in the face for 2 decades -by connecting the viewers’ phones to their TV’s. Allowing viewers to lean in to their content and be rewarded with contextually relevant experiences in the third party platforms of the advertisers.

Open instagram or twitter and see the profiles of those on screen , be it advertisers or talent. By connecting the platforms where viewers are on while consuming content we break down the wall of disconnect and can provide a better experience for viewers and a clear attribution and ROI for advertisers. 

If connectedness is important to humans, the extent to which a brand or a business is an extension of our humanness would seem to be intrinsically linked to “how” we connect with them… so what’s stopping us from just making it easier?


allt.tv has patented technology that privately and seamlessly connects content to viewers’ phones. Now every app on a phone can be a second screen app and viewer activity can be attributed directly to a viewing session


about the author

James is the co-founder of allt.tv.

With over 20 years experience in advertising, marketing and strategy, he’s the first to bring a brand’s perspective into the room and incessantly championing the “why” of everything we do at allt.