According to a recent study by Nielsen, 15% of viewers said they enjoyed watching television more when social media was involved. By now, we know that consumers are using these screens to browse the web, talk on social networks about what they're watching or access complementary content that enhances their experience. So what new and different opportunities does this activity create for pay-TV operators and programmers to leverage the second screen for increased tune-in, engagement and ad revenues?
One study from Twitter confirms the positive complementary role that social media can play when consumers watch TV. Twitter's analysis shows that not only do TV spots with hashtags drive more immediate conversation, they also trigger higher-quality responses. TV viewers multitasking on mobile devices are less likely to tune away during ad breaks and those using a second screen had higher ad recall. These viewers were also 13% more likely to discuss shows and 3% more likely to recommend programs. Discovery also gets a boost. According to the Nielsen survey, a quarter of TV viewers reported that they were more aware of TV programs due to their social media interactions
In another study by Twitter, Fox and the Advertising Research Foundation, 90% of people who saw TV-related tweets took action to further engage with the show. In addition, viewers exposed to tweets mentioning a show's brand partners were much more likely to view that brand positively and pay more attention to that brand's on-air ads.
The trends show the tune-in impact and advertising opportunities that are made possible by leveraging the second screen, and pay-TV operators as well as programmers are strongly positioned to capitalize on these opportunities given their direct connection to the consumer. However, fully realizing the potential of the second screen in the long-term will demand an even deeper integration between the first and second screens.
During this year's Miss America event, ABC created a big buzz on Twitter by displaying factoid boxes about each contestant. This prompted flurries of conversations around the contestants and the show. The show drove more than 300,000 tweets and more than 48 million Twitter impressions, according to Nielsen.
Pay-TV operators, of course, have deep extensive screen experience. As such, they are uniquely positioned to drive further innovation in this space. At a minimum, the viewing experience can be usefully augmented with social network data to help further connect viewers with the content they like. This would quickly unlock opportunities to more deeply engage viewers with content like behind the scenes or bonus clips that is integrated with first screen content and advertising.
Comcast’s SEEiT feature is an example of the kind of integrated functionality that we can expect more of. It allows Xfinity cable subscribers to tune to or record select television programs simply by clicking on embedded links within tweets, enabling a seamless transition from social engagement to content consumption, from one screen to the other. During the World Cup, ESPN has leveraged the feature to make it easier for World Cup fans to tune into or record games.
Programmers and brands can also connect with consumers through Facebook and Twitter's integration efforts, which lets sponsored content appear in users' feeds. The United States Tennis Association has stated emphatically that promoted tweets are working for the organization, fans and partners. During the past two U.S. Open events, "instant highlights" were promoted via sponsored tweets to help drive tune-in. This includes a famous 54-shot rally in 2013 that resulted in 10,000 retweets, increased viewer engagement and terrific exposure for brand partner Heineken.
Facebook has recently made data available around what consumers are saying when they talk about various TV shows. Programmers, pay-TV operators and advertisers can make use of this data to drive innovation around the second screen, and should actively push Facebook and Twitter to make more of that data accessible and insightful. This would make for a more personal second screen experience.
There are also opportunities to leverage social media to create unique events. During the 2014 Australian Tennis Open, KIA promoted its Game On app which offered a game that let consumers swing their phones to return serves from top players. The app reached number one on the iTunes and Google Playstore, with users seeing an average of 20 KIA commercials.
The best experiences will ultimately be those that take advantage of each platform's strengths. The first screen's broad reach makes it a very effective call-to-action platform to drive audience involvement (e.g., hashtags, trending activity and promoted audience tweets to cue the audience to social buzz around events). Conversely, by its very nature, the second screen provides a platform for a more personalized and differentiated experience. The interaction begins on the first screen, continues on the second, feeds back to the first, and so on.
When designing a second screen strategy, it is important to focus on the ways that screens can work together productively. Technology developments that help make this connection easier for consumers will be tremendously helpful.
Jonathan Weitz is a partner and Nic Picard is a principal with IBB Consulting, which helps lead growth strategies for content owners, service providers and device manufacturers.