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Second Screen Viewing Opens New Mobile Marketing Opportunities

Multitasking isn’t just an activity for the office anymore. New research shows that a large percentage of television viewers are simultaneously using tablets and smartphones as a “second screen” while they watch programs on the big screen. In fact, second screen viewing seems to be complementing and adding to the television watching experience, rather than stealing viewers as some in the entertainment industry had feared.

Second Screen Research

According to a Q4 2011 Nielsen survey of connected device owners, a majority of tablet and smartphone owners in the United States and the United Kingdom said they frequently use their device while watching TV.

In the US:

  • 88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device while watching television at least once during a 30-day period
  • 45 percent of tablet owners and 41 percent of smartphone owners used their device daily while watching TV
  • 26 percent of tablet owners used their device along with the television several times a day

In the UK:

  • 80 percent of tablet owners and 78 percent smartphone owners said they used their device while watching television at least once during a 30-day period
  • 24 percent said they used their device several times a day while watching TV

where people use connected devices

A Nielsen report released in April, State of the Media: Advertising & Audiences, examines how television viewers use their tablet as a second screen; many check their email, refresh sports scores or seek out more information on a show or commercial they saw on the big screen. A few interesting takeaways from the report are:

  • Men with tablets were more likely than women to look for information related to a TV program (39 percent vs. 34 percent)
  • Women were more likely than men to search for information related to a TV commercial (24 percent vs. 21 percent)
  • Teenagers were much more inclined to visit a social media site while watching TV than baby boomers and seniors (62 percent vs. 33 percent)
  • Adults age 25 to 54 seem to be very influenced by advertising; they are 23 percent more likely than the average US Internet user to follow a brand on social media and 29 percent more likely to purchase a product online that was featured on TV

What This Means for Mobile Marketers

The second screen viewing trend provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to connect with television viewers through online content. TV viewers are already using mobile devices while they watch programs on the big screen, and they seem to be looking for ways to augment the experience through their tablets and smartphones. Mobile marketers can leverage this interest by creating targeted, specific content related to the television shows people are watching.

British technology research company Mobile Interactive Group (as quoted in an October 2011 article in Forbes) summed up this idea in its white paper: “Mobile will become the main vehicle for interaction between viewer and broadcaster.”


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