Television is arguably one of the most revolutionary products of the 20th century. All over the world, the way in which audiences consumed content and entertainment changed. This not only paved the way for millions of hours worth of incredible television series and shows, created by unbelievably imaginative writers, it also enabled businesses and marketers to reach consumers at a very personal level. Empowered by this technology, they were virtually given the opportunity to showcase their products and services in the homes of television owners.
For a long time, television was a marketing paradise for businesses. However as technology evolved systems and services started popping up, which allowed users to skip through advertisements and record shows for viewing later. This technology put the power of the television back into the hands of the viewers. Coupled with the increase of entertainment and content consumption via other channels such as the internet, marketers were eventually forced to find new and innovative ways to interact with viewers.
Then came the age of social media, and later smartphones, which made it easier for businesses and television channels/shows to communicate with their audience. It also enabled companies to produce more targeted advertisements based on interactions with potential consumers. Viewers took to social media to share and discuss their views on television shows, an activity that was mostly confined to an individual’s close circle of friends or family members. The rise of smartphones magnified this activity, enabling users to instantly post/share their thoughts on social networks from the comfort of their couch.
Smartphones and tablets have therefore formed the foundation of ‘second screen viewing’; in generic terms, it can be defined as the process of interacting with a second touchscreen device, while consuming content via the television. One of the first applications of second screen viewing was using social media to share opinions and reviews of content, as it was shown on the television. This is turn triggered a chain reaction of app releases, as mobile app developers realised the potential of enabling viewers to interact with content on the television.
Mobile apps like 4Now enable viewers to interact with each other and vote on quizzes arranged by the show’s marketers, whilst watching it live on TV. This enables the marketing team to retarget its advertising campaigns, based on the preferences and requirements of viewers. TVTag allows users to check-in to shows and movies, just as they would in a physical location using Facebook’s check-in feature. This ‘checking in’ activity enables viewers to interact with others who are watching the same content.
Apart from generic channel or network-based apps, certain brands, shows and series such as Bones have dedicated apps, allowing users to interact at a different level with their favourite show. One of the most innovative uses of this second screen technology is by Durex, who created an app called Durex Explore; using this app, viewers can access an entirely different experience of the Durex Explore advertisement which appears on television.
Second screen viewing is an integral part of the television viewing experience for the millennials - television shows and content creators cannot afford to miss out on this trend. Used creatively, smartphone and tablet technology can finally encourage the millennials to interact with advertisements, generating interest and excitement around products as well as ensuring that advertisements aren’t skipped before they even start. Shazam has been one of the few pioneering apps that has given advertisers an opportunity to interact with viewers, providing users with even more content after tagging an advertisement via the app. There is much that can be learned from Shazam, as mobile app developers move towards a more interactive TV experience for the future.