What is the second screen?

Dual screen OMD

Earlier in the year David Coombs wrote about the second screen on this blog and talked about how important a good idea is to making a success of the opportunity. The ‘second screen’ is still a really hot topic. It seems that the proliferation of smart phones, tablets and laptops has dramatically increased our capacity and desire to consume even more.

But how do we analyse and understand these new opportunities in the first place? On the insight front, Thinkbox recently launched their latest tranche of research, View from the Sofa, examining the growth of the ‘second screen’. A full analysis of the research can be found on the Thinkbox website. To summarise: more people are doing more ‘second screening’ more often than before – and it’s great for TV and great for advertisers.

GFK also held a seminar devoted to the topic where Anthony Rose, the man responsible for the BBC iPlayer and co-founder of ZeeBox, gave an excellent overview of the second screen impact and opportunity.

One factor that has stood out for me more than any other when looking at the reams of ‘research’ into the second screen phenomena has been that so much focuses on the what, but so little on the why. My inbox is bombarded with exciting looking charts like this one that, whilst visually arresting, usually meet with the same response; So what!

#Euro2012 buzz

There seems to be a real dearth of compelling insights that actually provide genuine illumination. In a world of ‘big data’ it seems that show stopping statistics are becoming something of a crutch. Example: According to YouGov, 75% of the UK use other technology whilst watching TV. So what? The average Briton spends nearly 29% of their time asleep according to Warwick University. This doesn’t make the pillow the most exciting advertising opportunity (yet, anyway).

There is a disparity between big statistics that observe what and meaningful human insights that explore why. These human insights play a crucial role – they paint a fuller, richer picture that allows us to accurately interpret the trend and identify the relevant opportunity for brands. As researchers we are in a position of luxury where data led solutions not available a few years ago can be complemented by a softer suite of tools – communities, focus groups, diaries – that provide a gateway into unearthing the why.

By successfully fusing the two approaches (because big data is important, just less so in isolation) we can really begin to fully comprehend the tectonic shifts in consumer behaviour we are witnessing. To that end, it was refreshing to see Thinkbox observe consumers in their real world environment rather than relying solely on ‘big data’. More please!

Post by Chris Worrell, Insight Director



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