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Six startups to help boost your second screen efforts

By Emi Gal |

June 8, 2015 | 6 min read

‘Second screen’ is an area of marketing that is in vogue at the moment, and for good reason. The IAB recently reported that a huge 78 per cent of adults now watch traditional TV while using at least one other device, what it calls the rise of ‘multiscreening’.

Production houses are responding by building companion experiences to their top TV shows, creating some great new content formats on social media, online platforms and dedicated apps for mobile and tablets.

Interestingly, the IAB found that 37 per cent of multiscreen smartphone users search for reviews about products or services they’ve just seen in a TV commercial. But the days of advertising to a viewer’s undivided attention are gone. It’s down to brands to find creative ways to promote themselves throughout ad breaks, across multiple channels.

Second screen is still a young field, but there are already a number of startups innovating in this space. At Brainient, we’ve helped brands embrace second screen advertising by delivering interactive ads across smartphones and tablets, synced to the TV breaks.

Below is a list of startups that may be directly useful for marketers, while others are inspiration for the potential of harnessing second screen.


InAiR is a TV plug-in and remote control smartphone app that provides a 21st century augmented TV experience. It brings related social content to your TV screen alongside the programme you’re watching. The on-demand software intelligently identifies what you’re viewing at that moment, automatically gathers relevant online content, then displays these layers of web information over your TV screen.

You can check Facebook, tweet your thoughts, invite friends to watch it with you, or join the live discussion on the platform without missing a moment of the show. If a brand has an active social presence, this technology will make it all the easier for an audience to engage, appreciate and respond to its cross-device activity.


Most of the major broadcasting channels have developed their own smartphone apps, demonstrating varying degrees of creativity. This Android and iPhone app from US cable and satellite channel AMC gives users access to behind the scenes video, cast interviews, tweets and Facebook groups for a roster of AMC shows. Think Mad Men, The Killing and Breaking Bad.

It’s a cut above the others thanks to its diverse range of tactics that provide a live interactive experience. For example, the app invites users to vote in snap polls, feeds them interesting trivia questions during the programme and capitalises on popular scenes by enabling viewers to re-live them via video clips. It has had hundreds of thousands of downloads on each platform, which is testament to audiences’ appetite to follow their favourite shows beyond the box.

TeeVee 3

If you watch a lot of TV, keeping track of what you’ve seen and missed can be difficult. This iPad and iPhone app is a series addict’s friend. It sends you push notifications when episodes of your favourite TV show will air in your local time zone – just in case you forget. The first app to allow viewers to add specific episodes to a ‘watched’ list, it is also the gateway to a mass of information about users’ favourite programmes, whether they’re looking for information on a specific show or what to expect from the upcoming episode.

There’s even a countdown clock to the release of the next instalment. Useful if you’re well and truly hooked.

FanCake Live Sports Experience

Games and social networks are two of the most engaging new media formats for content providers, and sports-focused app FanCake brings them to the second screen. While you’re watching a match on TV, it shows curated tweets from your favourite sportscasters and even adds a betting-world element by encouraging users to predict the next plays. Winners get immediate point and credit payouts that they can redeem for tickets, gift cards, gears and other awards that are exclusive to the app.

This is a clever and novel way of turning live sporting events into an interactive experience for those following the action from their sofas.


No longer an early stage startup given its $10m funding, this Munich-based adtech company is a big-hitter in second screen advertising, thanks to its acquisition of specialist US startup Second Screen Networks in 2013.

Wywy helps brands extend and maximise their TV campaigns by syncing them in real time with digital second screen ads. This creates a consistent brand experience across all devices and drives more value from the ad spend. The company also ensures the right products are displayed on the brand’s website when a particular TV ad is showing, and gives detailed analytics about the impact of campaigns through website traffic.


Formerly named Zeebox, this Apple app bills itself as ‘the social network for TV’. It opts for a content personalisation approach to second screen by enabling viewers to follow the shows and stars they love, providing tailored stories and social feeds that are updated 24/7. Users can find and follow other fans that share their passion, and chat about the show in the app’s TVRooms. This drives increased interaction with the programme content and adds an important social element to the multimedia experience.

This is further built out by custom play-along games, live votes, quizzes and exclusive hosted content such as interviews and gossip. It’s a good example of how to add value to viewers through multiple different channels.

Emi Gal is chief executive and co-founder of Brainient. Follow Emi on Twitter @emigal.

Second Screen AMC Wywy

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