A clear majority of TV viewers (63%) are consulting a connected device while watching TV, a new IAB/Ipsos MediaCT study shows. But among those “second screeners” the smartphone was the most popular multitasking device among 45% of respondents -- the tablet with 30% and the familiar computer with only 21%.
The findings are part of the larger report “Multiscreen Marketer,” conducted with IAB and Econsultancy, and “Screens to nth,” with Ipsos MediaCT, launched at IAB Innovation Days @ Internet Week.
While 63% of people said they had used a connected device the last time they watched a live TV, the metrics for second screening during time-shifted TV viewing was similar, with 66% saying they used a device.
An ongoing question about second-screen activities is whether they serve as a distraction from the televised content or a complement. The IAB study finds that the majority of users are engaged in a range of activities that have little to do with the TV content: email, social networking, text messaging.
On the other hand, 45% of smartphone and 30% of tablet multi-iscreeners are doing something on their devices related to the show itself.
It is most interesting that the peer-to-peer conversational behaviors are occurring most often on the device that otherwise people traditionally use for (duh) peer-to-peer communication. Yes, it seems like a simple observation, but it bears remembering when distinguishing between smartphone and tablet functions, especially when it comes to second screening. For instance, 45% of all smartphone owners using their devices while the TV is on will be doing something related to the show, Ipsos finds. But only 30% of tablet owners will.
Among the behaviors most noted on smartphones related to the TV content are text/email/IM with a friend about the show (23%) versus 12% on tablet. Even more interesting is the surprising prevalence of voice chat (20%) over smartphones during a show. In fact, voice chatting over smartphones during a show is as popular as engaging friends on the social network (20%). My daughter clued me in to something akin to this behavior, as she and her friends now regularly schedule Netflix viewings over their respective Xboxes using the game console’s voice chat channel to share comments.
This survey found that 33% of people said they thought it was a good idea to be able to converse with others who are not in the room about a TV show. Almost three-quarters of the 18- to-24-year-old segment (73%), which includes my daughter, like the idea. She will be so proud to be demographically correct.
About 37% of smartphone multiscreeners are using their devices to talk about on-air ads they have seen, compared to only 18% of computer users and 16% of tablet users. Again, text/email/IM (22%) was more popular with smartphone owners than social networks (16%). Tablets become a greater second-screen force when the viewer is compelled to deeper drills like researching a product seen on TV or getting more detailed show information.
The Multiscreen Marketer study focused on users who were employing multiple devices during their TV time. In these cases, the IAB and Econsultancy discovered, people with three or more screens going at once (TV, PC, smartphone and/or tablet) were much more likely to use them while watching TV. For the younger 18- to-44-year-old demographic, 77% of them are likely to be multitasking.
And while many fear that multitasking ultimately dilutes the effectiveness of TV advertising, these early numbers suggest the opposite effect. Among “four screeners” 53% were able to associate up to three advertisers with TV programs, compared to 46% of three-screeners and 42% of two-screeners.
The research suggests some possbile new paths among second-screen developers. Because Facebook and Twitter are the hammers that everyone has at hand, then "social TV" tends to look like the same nail --inviting your vast crowd of faux friends or like-minded strangers into your second screen. This research suggests to me that many viewers want to be able to construct much more intimate social circles around their viewing, either through voice chat rooms that an app might facilitate or a circle of friends that could share a more manageable flow of text exchanges.
At our OMMA Mobile panel on second-screen efforts, I asked Yahoo's Adam Cahan about the sometimes irritating torrent of social commentary that flows into some "social TV" apps, and he said that many people actually do like that torrent and enjoy dipping in and out of it. Most on the panel mentioned the need to curate the flow more effectively or editorially highlight the user-generated content that mattered. But I would like to see in the next generation of these apps social management features that allow the user to easily create a social viewing circle on the fly and choose their preferred communication mode to chat virtually about a show.
After all, the best digital models are the ones that mimic and extend behavioral pattersn we bring to the technology -- not the ones the technology wants to impose on us.