Behind the boom in second screen usage
It's more accurate to refer to them as our primary screens
October 17, 2013
The TV industry came up with the term “second screen” to apply to other devices being used while watching television, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. But it’s become apparent that, moving forward, those screens are stealing more and more of viewers’ primary focus. That’s one conclusion from a wide-reaching report on second screens released by IPG Media Lab. It notes that 60 percent of TV viewers look at secondary devices during TV ad breaks, and viewers switch their attention between screens an average of 27 times per hour. Fifteen percent of viewers say they multitask between screens for the full duration of all TV shows, while 46 percent cop to doing so at least once or twice per program. It’s not just young people, either. The report notes that adults 55-64 are the heaviest web surfers and email checkers on tablets during commercial breaks. Natalie Bokenham, director of strategy at IPG Media Lab, talks to Media Life about why the second screen is not the enemy of the TV industry, how it has evolved over the past few years, and what media buyers and planners need to know about it.
First, can you define what you consider “second screen?”
The IPG Media Lab and Magna Global have defined “second screen” as the use of any computer device (tablet, smartphone, laptop) while the TV is on.
What did you find most interesting or most surprising about this report?
The “Second Screen Fallacy” report was a result of our search to find adequate answers for what “second screen” actually meant. In the end, we uncovered two “a-ha” insights:
First, the term “second screen” is a misnomer. This “second” screen that we’re referring to is actually the screen we take with us everywhere we go – our primary companion screen for life. Increasingly, the TV, along with all other screens, will serve as secondary screens to smart mobile devices which will soon serve as content hub, powerhouse and source of connectivity to peripheral dumb screens.
Second, the term “second screen” is something the TV industry made up, in response to the consumer attention crisis. The “second screen” represents both a threat and an opportunity.
It’s a threat because it signifies that the current single-screen TV buying strategy will not be effective for very much longer and those that do not respond will lose out. It is an opportunity because there are now new and exciting ways to recapture and measure, lost attention, even as it is fragmented across different screens.
What’s the most important thing that media buyers and planners can take from it?
The “second screen,” when utilized properly, has the power to turn TV into an interactive and participatory medium. When executed poorly its integration can fall flat.
In the report we are quite bullish about the idea that badges are dead. “Checking in” (often to get a badge) is the second least likely thing a second-screener will do, and those that do “check in” are highly unlikely to ever do it again. At IPG Mediabrands, we strongly encourage our media planners and buyers to consider how leveraging screens will add value to the consumer experience.
We also remind our teams that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach or solution for integrating “second screens.” As ever, advertisers should start with business objectives.
Second screen is nascent in the sense that it is a relatively new concept, and we are seeing an explosion of startups in the field. But any mobile experience can be leveraged for dual screen. Opportunities to leverage retail apps with large user bases and high ratings to convert inspiration to purchase instantly is particularly exciting.
For a long time it seemed that the TV industry considered the second screen the enemy. How and why is this changing?
As reflected in our research, we disagree that the TV industry ever considered “second screen” the enemy. We believe that the term “second screen” was invented by the TV industry as an insight-driven means of recapturing, and in time, re-monetizing consumer attention.
Back in early 2011 at the IPG Media Lab, we demoed ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy Sync iPad app for our clients as the first major example of a “second screen” experience.
However, today, thanks to new measurement tools, we are seeing more focus on “second screen” from the TV industry, tech companies and brands. These tools help validate why advertisers should start to shift some of their TV budgets to other screens.
What is the “consumer attention crisis” and what is being done to combat it? How much of a worry is it for advertisers?
The “consumer attention crisis” is the idea that consumers are being bombarded with thousands of media messages per day and as such, ad avoidance has become a coping mechanism for managing information overload. It’s is a huge worry for advertisers.
The IPG Media Lab is actively partnering with large-scale media owners to identify and develop new ways to re-capture consumer attention.
How is second screen creating more targeted television?
With advances in second screen technology, such as video finger-printing with Twitter Amplify, it is possible to identify engaged viewers of specific shows and retarget them on “second screen” platforms.
Are many advertisers and content creators still ignoring the second screen? Why or why not, and what are the consequences?
Well, no one leaves the IPG Media Lab ignoring the second screen.
In all seriousness, we find the second screen syndrome is something clients tend to grasp immediately, because they are experiencing it for themselves at home. The cost of ignoring second screen is increased ad avoidance–and ad avoidance will be further aggravated by the fact that the competition WILL be doing something about it.
Has the second screen become the first screen for some people? If so, who and why?
For early adopters, especially “cord-cutters” such as myself, the TV is acting as a dumb display for mobile streaming. Mobile devices have a familiar UI, easy access to a whole web/app ecosystem of content, and are generally easier to navigate.
We believe that Google’s Chromecast, which enables anyone to “cast” content from your Chrome browser for a one-off cost of $35, will help to precipitate this vision of the future.
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