Second Screening: A Significant Trend or Media Hype?

POSTED BY Analyst Team
We live in a multi-screen world, and it will come as no surprise to many readers of this blog that people are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets at the same time as watching TV. This can be for a number of reasons – to find out more about a story in their news app, to catch up with a friend on Skype or to post a picture to Tumblr. This has led to the ‘phenomenon’, as some are describing it, of Second Screening (or Social TV), whereas others have judged it to be nothing more than an overrated buzzword.

The biggest player in this space is social network Twitter, which has been keen to assert its commitment to this trend by acquiring analytics company BlueFin Labs in February of this year and more recently, social TV company Trendrr.

But why are Twitter so interested in breaking into, and shaping, this market?

I would argue it shows Twitter’s aspiration to be the leading platform for social interaction during moments of breaking news stories, live sports and celebrity gossip. These moments originate on our TVs, as do the adverts which so often accompany them.

Twitter has obviously realised the revenue potential in the market for second screening – in May this year it launched a beta TV Ad Targeting product, which then went live to US advertisers in July. This product allows TV advertisers to target Twitter users who are likely to have seen their ad (measured through hashtags, tweets mentioning the show, etc) and to send them a Promoted Tweet with the same advertising message. The product is itself based on technology from BlueFin Labs, and Twitter believes it will allow brands to create a deeper connection with consumers through continuing their message on the platform.

The potential for this nascent technology is considerable, especially given that it draws on concepts and models from other sectors of the mobile industry, for instance harnessing big data and transforming it to improve mobile advertising (only a few weeks ago I was exploring how Facebook has managed to make mobile advertising work).

Indeed there are many industry buzzwords and acronyms which I’m sure you’re being told to make a note of at the moment – bitcoins, BYOD and selfies – but in terms of mobile content, I hope I’ve shown that this is one to take into consideration.