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Why Second-Screen Media Experiences Need to Be Social

  |  March 11, 2014   |  Comments

The second screen is no longer just a trend - it is now an integral aspect of media experiences in 2014 - and some of the largest players in media are taking the second-screen experience very seriously.

More than 84 percent of American tablet and smartphone owners use their devices while watching TV. This revelation shows that the second screen is no longer just a trend; it is now an integral aspect of media experiences in 2014. With multi-million dollar partnerships between Twitter and the NFL, as well as collaborations between the likes of Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show and General Electric to develop an app, some of the largest players in media are taking the second-screen experience very seriously.

Not only do second-screen apps serve as another data point for marketers to gather contextual insight about customers, but they are also ideal for increasing brand engagement and even advertising reach. With a majority of users hopping between tablets, smartphones, and their TV, brands should aim to provide custom app experiences that keep viewers engaged and coming back for more.

Second-Screen Experiences Should Aim for the Social Masses

AMC, arguably one of the most successful networks around with the success of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, has made substantial headway with the second screen. Story Sync is a second-screen mobile app experience for a variety of shows on AMC. Viewers open the app in time for the premiere and participate in social media polls, contests, and questionnaires.
For the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead, there were 391,210 tweets created during the broadcast on top of the usage of Story Sync. What the AMC software development team did right was create an additional Web-based app, in addition to the native iPad app, that could be accessed from any and all device types. This meant that people with laptops, tablets, and smartphones could use Story Sync through their browser. Web applications are an economical and strategic alternative to building solely for Android or iOS.

Opening the gates to every device type allows for as many users as possible to engage with the second screen. The greater the numbers, the more likely the social experiences will succeed in engaging viewers. Social activity and participation on Twitter is now even ranking alongside traditional Nielsen ratings.

By using Story Sync as an ideal case study, brands can drive engagement and increase loyalty with viewers through the second screen.

Exclusive Content Experiences Can Go Viral and Keep Viewers Engaged

Brands must aim to incorporate social activity through their second-screen apps in order to make the most impact. Just look at the Oscars and Ellen DeGeneres' record breaking "selfie." Despite a lack of a dedicated second-screen Oscars app, viewers retweeted the image more than 3 million times (breaking the previous record held by President Obama's second election win).

In fact, women who used Twitter during the Oscars broadcast watched the program for 39 percent longer than women who didn't tweet. The fact is that second-screen social experiences are great for driving engagement from a participatory audience. Although the Twitter experience is not exclusive, it serves to show how many audiences are seeking increased interaction and immersion with a program.

Second-screen apps must also offer content that a user cannot find on a brand's website or by viewing the show. For example, behind-the-scenes "making of" content can drive home the quality of production that goes into a show. Similar to how the backstage authentic feel of Ellen's selfie helped to sky-rocket exposure for Samsung (which paid to sponsor Ellen's selfie-taking phone of choice), networks, production companies, and sponsors can take a similar approach. Or, in-depth candid interviews with actors, producers, and writers can draw the viewer in and create a deeper connection to the show and the brand behind it.

Early Movers Are Proving the Value of Social and the Second Screen

In 2014, the average American household owns four different devices and spends more than 60 hours a week using them. Creating apps for multiple devices that correspond and augment a viewer's experience will be a major initiative for some of the top brands in media.

For today's multi-device-using audience, providing great content and facilitating social sharing can increase the chance of an ad campaign or TV show receiving widespread attention. Consumers are no longer stuck with a set choice for how to consume media.

In the years ahead, media and production companies may very well build in-house mobile development teams. Cartoon Network for instance, is creating a "micro-network" through a dedicated mobile app to stream optimized mobile video and gaming content.

With eyeballs continuing to peer away from the TV screen, brands must continue to adapt. When an app adds interactive value to a static experience like a TV show, customers will remember and the brands behind the experience will benefit.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Himanshu Sareen

Himanshu is responsible for the strategic and overall business development of Icreon. He founded Icreon in 2000 and grew the company through a mix of acquisitions and organic growth. Under Himanshu's leadership, Icreon has grown to become a leading IT consultancy in its space working with some of the world's largest and most influential brands including National Geographic Channel, Fox, PepsiCo, Nokia Siemens Networks, and more.

A strong business-informed technologist, Himanshu has directed Icreon's heady growth through diverse economic climates, dot-com booms and busts, by maintaining a long-term view on relationships, keeping a close eye on the data and business dashboard, and by enabling informed decision-making. Himanshu is a natural entrepreneur. His first encounter with entrepreneurship was a comic rental business at the age of 13. Other ventures he started and exited successfully included an ERP consulting firm, an education-training institute, and a real estate trading business. He has also been as a technology advisor to boards of non-profits and SMBs in New York and globally.

Himanshu is part of the Owners and Presidents Program of Harvard Business School. He received his MBA in international business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. Aside from his work and family, Himanshu is passionate about keeping up with the latest technology trends, physical fitness, and supporting entrepreneurship and the tech community.

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