Designing Creative for the Multichannel Experience

By : Loren Berrier


Graphic for Designing for Multichannel Experience Blog

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LVIII, we say goodbye to football season. Millions of people had their TVs tuned to a game at least a few times each week, and it’s more likely than not that they also had their phone in hand. Fantasy football apps, social media, the latest article about Travis and Taylor’s celebrations — multichannel media consumption is the norm. Yet most TV advertisements were still designed as standalone experiences, missing out on the extended engagement that a brand could have with someone on their phone.

In early January, Snap announced a partnership with Samba TV with the goal of helping advertisers better measure how social media campaigns drive viewers to linear and streaming platforms. However, the reverse is just as important: tracking how TV advertisements drive people to social and other mobile activities. What’s also important is measuring creative and using data to inform the creative process itself. It’s critical to design TV and social or mobile campaigns that work together to deliver a multichannel experience that makes sense to viewers.


Consider the Full Experience

TV and social media might feel like two different worlds, but they add up to a single experience for someone sitting on their couch that is more than the sum of its parts. Brands need to make sure that whatever they’re putting on the big screen flows with the creative and content that’s available online and doesn’t just repeat it, or worse, reuse it. Too often, brands spend their creative efforts on the 30-second TV spot and then simply cut it down to squeeze into different channels and platforms.  

The first step in the right direction is to create assets specifically for each channel and platform. Meta found that ads built for, and appropriate to, Facebook and Instagram drive better results.  Creative accounts for the lion’s share of an ad’s performance, so it makes sense that content with imagery and sound developed to the standards and specifications of its respective platform will flow best with the viewer’s expectations. At a minimum, this will give viewers an experience where social and other online ads are as impactful and cohesive as the look and feel of the TV ad. 

Next, advertisers can augment the online experience by leaning into the elements that make that platform special. TikTok is full of music, dancing, and people talking directly to the camera. An ad that uses these elements to carry the TV ad in a new direction will appeal to TikTok viewers. Instagram is different — with beautiful content and influencers with unique appeal. Tapping into that aesthetic and even hiring relevant influencers to expand a TV ad with behind-the-scenes tutorials can help. Take a movie trailer as an example. The TV ad could show a shortened version of the trailer, while the full trailer is available on YouTube and outtakes on TikTok. On Instagram there can be interviews with the stars talking directly to the screen. 

Many brands have gotten used to creating social media videos like this, but few are tying them directly to their TV ads. Why not have the influencer reference the ad specifically? Or, even more interestingly, reverse the concept. Brands can put TikTok-style videos in one ad, use influencers in another, and then use CTV to target the two different ads to different audiences based on their social preferences. Addressing TV audiences directly and telling them where to find additional experiences should become the norm. Using creative data to learn more about what creative elements work best on each platform can help brands get better faster as they test these new experiences out with their audiences.


The Power of Interactivity

An even more powerful approach is to tap into the phone as an interactive device during the TV viewing experience. Brands like Burger King and Victoria’s Secret have used QR codes on the TV screen to encourage people to navigate to unique online content, or to take advantage of a sale with a coupon code.

Some companies have started partnering with CTV companies to build interactivity into the advertising experience. Walmart and Roku have partnered so that people can make purchases directly on their TVs with a few clicks. Smaller companies that can’t negotiate such integrated deals can follow a similar approach with a CTV ad that makes it very easy to redeem a code on a mobile app.

Delivering multichannel experiences does take some extra planning upfront. Creative teams need to have an understanding of what their viewers are doing while they are watching and where they prefer to go online. In addition to creating a gorgeous TV spot, they need to consider how that spot could be augmented with interactivity, additional content or simply different versions of the same ad in a way that feels fresh and appropriate for the channel.

While it takes more work, it’s the baseline of what creative planning looks like in 2024. The data tells us so. If audiences are already multitasking and already seeing brand creative on different channels while watching TV, it’s a brand’s obligation to make those experiences as cohesive as possible.