Rethinking the Second Screen: What About the Multiscreen Experience?

More than two years ago I wrote my very first post for this Marketing Strategy blog. It was focused on the two-screen broadcast experience during the Royal Wedding.

I wrote about how the Royal Wedding signified two changes — a shift in the British Monarchy and a dramatic change in how consumers think about news, live events and social media. With the birth of the royal baby, Prince of Cambridge, I thought it might be time to re-examine how connected viewers are using technology and various devices.

Rethinking the Second Screen: What About the Multiscreen Experience? image multiscreen tv experience1Rethinking the Second Screen: What About the Multiscreen Experience?

A second screen? A first screen? Or just multiscreen?

During the Royal Wedding broadcast networks experimented with multi-channel strategies like online live-streaming, mobile apps, Facebook pages and network-specific Twitter hashtags. I wrote about how the event received so much social attention it even held every spot for a trending topic on Twitter [something that had not happened prior to that time].

But how many of us still approach our mobile device as our “second screen” to television? I would venture to guess that, just like me, many of you turn to your mobile or tablet as your first media experience. The entire media experience has been disrupted and is now a multi-screen experience — regardless of your device of choice. [This is similar to the omni-channel marketing revolution affecting customer experience.]

People now use their mobile, tablet and even laptop as their first screen while the television may just be running in the background. It’s likely you’ve gone hours without even realizing what is on the TV.

More than 50 percent of all cell phone owners use their phone while watching TV — Pew Internet and American Life Project

As Janko Roettgers points out in Gigaom, the concept of the “second screen mobile experience” is wrong and dangerous to those planning media strategies. It leads us to believe that the giant TV screen in the living room is the center of media universe. And this is no longer true.

Rethinking the Second Screen: What About the Multiscreen Experience? image multiscreen memeRethinking the Second Screen: What About the Multiscreen Experience?The typical American watches between 2.8 and 4.8 hours of TV each day according to research from Nielsen and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a lot of TV time. But much of that TV viewing is low-attention background consumption, and programmers and advertisers know this. With the increasing presence of technology in how we live out our days, this attention may be at an all-time low. Between email, Facebook feeds, chats, games and the thousands of other things you can do while he TV is running it’s quite likely the TV has become your second screen. It is used only to provide a small amount of additional value while you are doing other more important things on your various devices.

But don’t forget that during instances of live, must-see TV, the programs or discussion around the event are interesting or important enough to capture your attention immediately. Take for example, the Royal Wedding, MTV Video Music Awards or the Super Bowl. Hardcore viewers wouldn’t want to find out what happens any other way than watching it first hand.

The media landscape is rapidly evolving into a multiscreen viewer experience. Sometimes consumers go straight to Twitter, other times it’s a TV first moment. Some may even be seeking primary entertainment from blogs, news sites or even, GASP… print media!

Embracing a Multi-screen World

Marketers, developers and broadcast executives will need to shift their understanding of how people really interact with television and how it relates to their use of apps and social media. This is not a second screen experience. We are living in a multi-screen world. Brian Solis explains the need for strategic design of a new multi-screen experience that goes beyond social TV.

What this means is that viewers want options. They want to control what they consume, where and perhaps most importantly, how. The future of television and media consumption in a multi-screen world is more than integrating Tweets with an app or adding unique hashtags to each segment of a television show. It is vital to design a multi-screen experience that spans from the TV to laptops to tablets and smart phones and the social networks that link them together.

Viewers now want to flow seamlessly in their media experience — from one TV channel to a text from a friend, to a Twitter hashtag, then to a different TV channel and then to check a new email. It’s time to embrace unified strategies that include all screens — NOT siloed individual strategies for each separate device. Viewers don’t think about their technology use and media consumption in silos, why should you? In the future, consider ways that unified and multi-screen strategies can not just deepen the relationship and engagement with your current consumers, but also how it can reach new, untapped viewers.

Strive to identify ways that your new initiatives and multi-screen strategies can align with your larger goals for establishing new and deeper relationships between the viewer and specific elements of the media consumption experience.

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