The Rise of Second Screens

Finally, it’s official – consuming media is no longer a passive endeavor.

We text while watching TV, update our status on FB as we’re on Playstation, call-in to a TV presenter or host to convey our opinions, tweet our thoughts when we watch the news, look for updates or scores on mobile phones or tablets while watching the big game. This probably spells the obituary of single screen experiences. Today we need at least one more device or screen to enhance the content we’re interacting with.

The emergence of smart TV and social television has allowed the spotlight to fall on the way we interact with content on one screen such as the television and simultaneously confirm, cross-check, verify and seek additional information on a separate second screen available on a mobile or portable device, mobile Internet, smart phone, etc.

The second screen means that first screen content has to be tweaked to integrate this interactive element and allow the story to unfold in newer and more creative ways. For instance, many games have second screen elements that give the back-story, history of the characters, plot and setting details. A broadcast of a game or sport on TV also has players, coaches, sports-casters and experts tweeting or blogging while the game is still live. The live feed thus expands exponentially to include a range of views, opinions and takes that enrich the viewer’s first screen experience.

This looping of content and feedback, action and comment can be in real time and this is something that many marketing and media experts are taking note of. They’re also discovering that it’s just not enough to layer on the second screen content to the original – it needs to be built in purposefully to be more natural and genuine. Second screen is not an afterthought.

Another big development in social marketing is the continuing narrative or aftershow. Consumers or viewers who are inspired or impacted by games, shows or content wish to extend their relationship with the narrative and hence, continue to interact with a brand after the original presentation has ended. AMC and Discovery Channel have both done this successfully with “Talking Dead” and “The Gold Rush Aftershow”. The aftershow typically has discussions, critics’ takes, snippets and bloopers, polls, social media networking, humorous or interesting anecdotes by live audiences, judges or participants. It could also have phone-in or live-cam features that allow a wider reach and they also make the experience highly personal and interactive.

Digital upgrades are available on shows via different apps that bring audiences even closer into the circle of experience. You can even record content for later viewing and immersion.

Today the mantra is to create profound and durable connections between target audiences and the content so that they remain in sync through a process of genuine supply and demand.