Showtime’s Mobile Ad Sets Off a Virtual Bomb in Your Hand

Feel the suspense—literally

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Drama TV shows are known for turning out adrenaline-pumping trailers to keep viewers tuned into programs, so why not do the same with digital advertising?

Tomorrow, Showtime launches a mobile ad campaign to promote the upcoming season of Homeland, which premiers Oct. 5. The ad uses a feature called tactile effects (also known as haptic technology) that uses the motors inside a phone to trigger physical vibrations while a video plays.

The promo pushes a minute-long YouTube trailer and is set up with 60 vibrations that go off during the clip's suspenseful moments. In one scene of the video, a bomb goes off and the ad makes it feel as if it is actually going off in the viewer’s hand. The technology only works on Android smartphones since iPhones do not have the built-in technology.

Showtime has bought out the advertising inventory in Slate’s app—which consists of banner ads that expand to play the video—for a four-week campaign leading up to the Season 4 premiere of the show next month. In addition to the Slate media buy, the video experience is also available in Showtime’s Android app under the "coming soon" tab.

This isn’t the first time that Showtime has created an intriguing mobile ad to promote an upcoming season. Last year, the network ran a takeover ad on The New York Times iPad app to hype the show Ray Donovan. The takeover ad included banner and full-page ads that silently played videos automatically.

Over the past few years, brands have beefed up banner ads with rich media and interactive creative, but very few have taken advantage of the phone's actual built-in features, so it will be interesting to see how Showtime's mobile ad performs. Banner ads aren't exactly known for keeping consumers' attention, but a vibrating ad will certainly help Showtime's promo grab some views.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.