Behind the use of second screens with TV
A new study finds who's watching what, when and why
June 23, 2014
Media multi-tasking is certainly nothing new, but second screens have taken that multi-tasking to new heights. Nearly half of viewers are using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, while watching television, according to a new report from CivicScience. It finds that 21 percent of all TV viewers are looking at social media, games or web sites unrelated to the show they’re watching, while 18 percent are texting or checking email. Interestingly, only a small portion of TV viewers, 6 percent, are interacting with show-related online material. Just 37 percent say that they put their devices away while the television is on. Younger viewers who multitask are much more likely to be interacting with the show they are viewing in some way, such as tweeting or Facebooking about it. Jennifer Sikora, vice president of marketing at CivicScience, talks to Media Life about who’s using second screens, why they’re doing it, and how this can impact advertisers.
What was the most interesting or most surprising thing you learned from this report?
I was interested in the data showing that more consumers [using second screens] are not engaging with the shows’ online content or talking about the shows via social media.
Their second-screen use is focused largely on non-show activity.
How much has second-screen usage risen while watching TV in the past year? How high do you think it will get?
We’ve only just started measuring this and plan to keep a tracker on this, which will allow us to continue to do deeper profiling over time.
We would expect that the growing trend in ownership of tablets and smartphones, even across older demographic groups, means that second screen use will only continue to rise.
A very small portion, 4 percent, use mobiles as a replacement for TV. Do you think this number will grow, or is mobile a poor replacement for television because of size/delivery issues?
Tablets are certainly a big factor here, which are included in our category of second screens. And we see tablet ownership continuing to rise very strongly in the past year. For younger folks who are more mobile and have less financial resources, using their tablet as their TV set makes sense.
What does it mean for advertisers that so many people are using second screens for content unrelated to TV?
Understanding who is distracted, what they are doing when they are distracted, and who is more likely to be engaged with the show even on second screens are all important things to research further.
For example, we see that among younger viewers, they are much more likely to be talking about the show on social media while watching. That is valuable information for marketers to know.
Why do you think younger viewers are more likely than older ones to be interacting about the show on social sites?
Age can be a proxy for many things, and we see technology usage and social media engagement as a prime example of that across many of the types of insight reports and client work that we deliver. Younger demo groups are in general more comfortable with social media, they’ve integrated it into the “workflow” of their lives.
I think of my teenage stepdaughter who, whenever we are watching a movie at home together, is chatting with her friends about it, snapping pictures of the screen and uploading the pics to her social feeds. It’s foreign to me, but natural to her and her peers.
Why do you think medium-level TV viewers are so engaged compared to light and heavy viewers?
This was also an interesting find. Based on the data we have, which was not included specifically in the report, is that we know that respondents from lower-income households are more likely to say they are heavy TV viewers, at six or more hours per day.
We also know from our data that those with lower incomes are less likely to own second-screen devices.
So the data suggest a strong connection there. Light viewers are also more likely to have annual incomes of $100,000 or more, which also means they are more likely to be older in age and likely are more limited and selective in their TV viewing time.
What’s the most important thing media buyers should remember about second screens and television?
It still comes down to the basics but applied to a changing viewing-habit landscape: Know the audience where you are focusing your content.
The older the demo group, the less likely they are to be distracted by second screens at this point in time. Millennials, particularly those under age 25, are going to be trickier and take some creative, synchronized marketing strategies that also incorporate social media strategies.
Online content and games that you build should have a social component to them, which the data shows is more likely to engage them. Age is also a big factor for brands, so that should also be kept in mind when thinking about second screen strategies–younger-leaning brands should pay strong attention here.
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