The Rise of the Second Screen Creates New Opportunities for Marketers


If International CES 2013 was any barometer, the 2010 Recession might finally be behind us. Sony’s (and several other of the major TV manufacturers) confident unveiling of 4K TVs listing for $25,000 is an economic indicator that we’ve weathered the storm.

That optimism is grounded with other reality points as well. Despite the worst economy in 70 years, smartphone penetration has grown to more than 50 percent of the population in the United States and many other areas around the World. Meanwhile, more than one in four U.S. adults now own a tablet. Consumption of data is at an all-time high — and no one sees an end in sight.

As smartphone and tablet adoption soar, so do opportunities for brands, service providers, TV networks and other companies to leverage and foster another trend: the transformation of television viewing from a passive to an active experience. To showcase this concept, CES introduced the 2nd Screen Summit, whose topics included “Advertising and Second Screen” and “Show Me the Money: Monetizing the 2nd Screen Experience.”

Ample research suggests that smartphones and tablets are rapidly turning couch potatoes into engaged participants. According to a recent Nielsen study one in three people already use Twitter to discuss TV shows Nielsen also found that 41 percent of tablet owners and 38 percent of smartphone users access their device while watching TV.

The stage has been set for advanced on-screen marketing, such as QR Codes, which are a natural fit for advertisers who prefer active, engaged audiences.  The second screen gives advertisers the power to create meaningful connections with consumers.  For example, while watching a show, viewer can easily purchase a featured song or instantly engage in other ways, limited only by the imagination of marketers and programmers. Or imagine the possibilities of polling an audience in real time during a show to get relevant insights and opinions. Before the emergence of the second screen, artist and record labels relied on the hope that viewers would not only scour the show’s end credits for the song’s title, but also remember to  Google it later. Today, viewers can simply scan an on-screen QR Code to purchase the song.

These scenarios indicate that mobile devices and TVs will continue to complement one another, rather than one replacing the other. For example, after using her tablet to buy a movie, a consumer might choose to watch it on her TV – 4K or not – for reasons that include her mobile device’s limited battery life and the  TV’s larger screen.

Another example of the symbiotic relationship across various platforms is the consumer who uses his smartphone to scan a QR Code in a magazine so he can watch a video. If the smartphone senses that his TV is nearby, the video can be routed to the TV for a better viewing experience while saving the phone’s battery in the process.

Some companies are now giving advertisers the opportunity to sync ads to  run on both the television and a viewer’s smartphone or tablet. One example is zeebox, which also delivers valuable information for advertisers and programmers by identifying the content that motivates viewers to take action.

The rise of the second screen is a subset of a larger trend: Smartphones and tablets are now the backbone for consumers’ daily media use. In fact, Google’s research shows that by 2015, mobile searches will outpace desktop queries .

It is evident that brands and agencies cannot afford to ignore mobile’s reach and effectiveness, especially in conjunction with advanced and emerging consumer electronics.  The second screen concept shows how these progressive technologies work together to enhance engagement opportunities and create a richer experience for the consumer.



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