Second Screens and Missed Opportunities

After a long day at the office, we’ve all felt that need to sit back, kick off our shoes, and watch our favorite TV series. Or so we think. How long into an episode does it take before you pull out your phone to send out a tweet or to check Facebook? Or maybe you might pull out your tablet to look up the actor you just saw, new TV series, or check email. This phenomenon, of consuming content on a primary device (a television) while simultaneously accessing contextual information on a second device (smartphone or tablet) is termed the “Second Screen”, and it’s something that has become increasingly popular. Do you use a second screen while watching tv?

While second screen use can refer to video gaming as well, it’s most commonly associated with the use of televisions. It’s just something we do now, especially with the easy availability of devices and the abundance of content available online. If you are watching sports on the television, you will find it really easy to check player information, stats and leaderboards in real time online. You will also be interacting with friends and followers on Facebook or Twitter, sending messages and posts back and forth about the match you are watching. It’s an amazing level of integration and interaction between what you are watching, what you are accessing on demand, and who you share the experience with. Second screening is taking our consumption of entertainment content to a whole different level. In this case, however, the consumer is several steps ahead of the content producer in sophistication. How often do you share your experience on social media whilst watching tv?

A Nielsen report in 2012 says that 84 percent of mobile owners use their tablet or smartphone while watching TV at least once a month, and 40 percent do so daily. A TNS report in 2014 saw this daily usage rise to 48 percent globally, while US percentages rose to 56 percent. That is not even close to Asian percentages of second screen use. Japan tops the list with 79 percent of second screen use, while South Korea has 53 percent and India hovers around 45 percent. The majority of second screen activities involved internet browsing (44%), social networking (42%) and emailing (60%). That is a lot of people engaging with a secondary device while the television runs.

This division of attention is a loss for television content producers and advertisers, but it is also a huge opportunity. What if content producers leverage the power of the second screen to engage with consumers on another level? What if a television studio could get feedback from those watching their programs in real time? They’d be able to assess how the audience at home is feeling about the program as it is airing. They could customize advertisements that would lead people to search out additional content on their second screens, like accessing a product website or ‘liking’ a Facebook page. Personalized ads that invite viewers to interact create more of an impact than traditional ads. 90.8 percent of viewers engage online in response to these ads and 40 percent of these make purchases more than once a week because of these advertisements. Second screen engagement is much higher when programs are broadcasted in real-time (Mukherjee P & Jansen B. J, 2014). However, despite the evidence, less than 9 percent of TV programs support second screen engagement. Do you think it is important to engage the audience using a second screen whilst watching TV?

From a 2014 CMO study of Fortune 500 companies, 95 percent of CMOs said that content marketing is important to their business, and 87 percent say that social media is the most engaging digital medium for serving real-time content. The intent to leverage second screens is definitely there, but what’s needed is innovation, good concepts, and great content. The second screen phenomenon is a tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage technology to interact with their communities on multiple levels. It is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.