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What is second screening?

Got your feet up whilst watching your favourite new tv show? Scrolling through your smartphone simultaneously? You may not know this, but it’s known as “second screening.” The pretty literal term for people watching both television and another screen at the same time.

But your second screen doesn’t just have to be your mobile phone. In fact, if you’re a player in this multi-functional game, any connected device will do. This could be your tablet, laptop or even your desktop computer.

In a world where most of us own and operate multiple devices, most brands today seek a multi-channel approach to advertising. From television to mobile and content-based ads, second screening is all around. So, let’s take a further look into just what it is and what the future might hold for marketers…

According to eMarketer, research undertaken in July 2017 by YuMe and Nielsen found that millennials turn to their smartphones as a second screen device than any other generation, including Gen X users. The survey, which focused on US internet users also saw the same percentage of millennials using their smartphones for a second-screening experience as those who used their PC, at 68%.

When it comes to other generations using turning to their smartphones for second-screening, Gen Xers came in 52%, with Baby Boomers perhaps unsurprisingly coming in at a lower 39%. And when it comes to tablets? Just 24% of millennials pick theirs up to second-screen, with 26% of Gen Xers using theirs. Just a quarter of Baby boomers looked to their tablet device for this purpose.


what does this mean for marketers?

The recent research carried out serves as a strong indicator that marketers need to look at targeting millennials alongside those up-and-coming Gen X consumers, specifically through their smartphones.

Pauline Robson, who is Head of Insight at MediaCom, stated:

“In the past few years, the way people watch TV has changed quite drastically; on average, people spend around 30 per cent of their TV time simultaneously looking at their phone or tablet. Historically, brands have shuddered at the thought of attention wandering to the second screen. However, our research has flipped that misconception on its head and shown that advertisers should actively look for shows where the audience is most likely to be second screening. Media plans should actively take into account the second screening effect in order to improve efficiency; the opportunities for brands are huge.”

New research conducted by MediaCom and ViewersLogic
, has shown that despite the belief that spending time on another device would detract attention away from an advert, people using a device – whether it be a phone or a tablet – whilst watching TV, are 75% more likely to follow up on an ad.

This research also offered up some pretty surprising results, stating that people who viewed adverts while second screening was shown to be more “brand aware” than those who weren’t. A 12% difference in brand awareness between those second screening during the ad and those who were not was found. The study also showed that “second screening significantly increases active response.”

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AI researcher

In a word, yes. Second screening shouldn’t be second-guessed. In fact, the mobile phone has become the new remote – near enough – with 94% of participants keeping their digits on their smartphone whilst watching TV.

Of course, there will always be brands who have smashed the first screen experience, not really needing to consider the second screen. With Christmas right around the decked out corner, some well-known companies know just how to do it. Think Coca-cola with their iconic Christmas ad or John Lewis, getting consumers – and their emotions – all riled up year upon year, with all expectantly wondering jus what festive route they’ll go down this time.

But other brands are getting their hands fully immersed in the second screening arena. You know the sponsored ads you see whilst watching your favourite Saturday night programme? More often than not, these brands offer second screen experiences that work, simply because the experience feels natural to the viewer. So, there is pretty exciting potential to marketers, but only if the user experience doesn’t feel forced. It also needs to add value to the consumer.

It’s not just ads that viewers are using their second screen for. An October 2017 survey on US internet users, carried out by professional services network, PwC, saw other activities of interest. 65% of these users looked up information about a product they saw advertised whilst 64% communicated with friends about the show they were bingeing on.

In addition to this, 78% of people asked said that they frequently or sometimes communicated with friends or used social media in ways which had nothing to do with the TV programme on the big screen. Meaning that even if not used from an advertising approach, people are getting their hands all over the double screen.



 So it certainly is here to stay. In fact, eMarketer predicts that those looking to the second screen on their smartphones is only going to increase in the coming year. Thumbs, at the ready.