Our Blog

Second Screen: What it means for brands

19 March 2013

Second screen, that is, watching TV with a smartphone, tablet in hand or laptop on your knee is a fast-growing pastime and it’s accelerating month on month. So it’s no surprise that broadcasters and brands are now increasingly looking at ways to engage these viewers with tie-in content. Here, Matt Butterworth, Planning and Digital Partner for Big Communications, tells us what second screen means for brands.

Second screen society and second screen viewing

Second screen is now an everyday reality - from tweeting comments about BBC’s Question Time to Facebooking during Britain’s Got Talent. About 60% of UK viewers go online while watching TV at least twice a week and one in three does so every day, according to research by TV advertising trade body Thinkbox.

Brands are increasingly looking to build on this phenomenon and some believe that interacting with live TV on a companion device is the next great frontier for social media. According to a study by Brandwatch, 61% of brands are already regularly tweeting before, during and after TV programmes - hoping to improve their brand image by engaging with their followers in current and topical conversations.

Second screen and social media for brands

Twitter’s TV Book which was released earlier this year breaks down the tweeting habits of TV viewers and tells us that of the 10 million active Twitter users in the UK, 60% tweet whilst watching TV and 40% of them mention what they are watching in some way or other. That’s a big social audience – and if a brand can get it right, they can soon increase their social voice and their followers. According to Brandwatch, 17% of the people surveyed said that they felt more connected to brands seen on social networking sites.

Quick facts

  • Dual-screen social TV initiatives are the next great frontier for social media, according to some agencies.
  • 60% of viewers concurrently watch TV and go online two to three times a week. One in three (37%) do so every day.
  • Some doubt dual screening will become mainstream because people often watch TV to relax rather than engage with it. Understanding programme types and content is as essential as understanding audiences. (Source: http://econsultancy.com)
But brands must beware because the social audience is just as likely to turn away from a brand for an uncool or inappropriate comment, as they are to engage with it. Now that individuals have a media voice of their own in the social context, it should not be underestimated how much havoc negative tweeting about a brand can do. Brands need to articulate a clear communication strategy for an audience that is well known and defined – including tone of voice, timeliness and relevance, before they commence.

This is clearly not a daunting prospect for a new fashion show on Channel 4’s T4, funded by high street chain New Look, which plans to go further still in its efforts to tap into dual screening. During ‘New Look Style Nation’, which launches on 4th June, viewers will be able to dress virtual models and submit their own designs on a dedicated website, to compete for a job styling the retailer’s ad campaigns. The show will appeal to the chain’s strong youth following (it currently has 100,000 fans on Facebook). The website will also link to the New Look ecommerce site where viewers can buy styles featured in the programme.

Second screen: games, apps and TV

It’s true to say that Social TV is in its early stages and brands are still experimenting with second screen formats, but the idea undoubtedly has a role to play in reinvigorating live TV events and allowing brands to tap into the opportunities therein. While it appeals strongly to a hardcore of users, it remains to be seen how far mainstream viewers will interact with programmes and brands through second screen games and more advanced applications. It’s unlikely that you’ll see your granddad racing online against the Countdown clock whilst tweeting the benefits of a bottle of WKD Blue anytime soon – but you might find him guessing the value of a painting on his Antique’s Roadshow app, even if he doesn’t know how to tweet the nation with the result.
Danielle Stagg

Written by Danielle Stagg