Coping With Tablet Potatoes, Interpublic Finds 'Second Screens' Are Still Primarily A Couch Experience

In what may be the most exhaustive analysis of the burgeoning “second screen” TV marketplace to date, two of Interpublic’s elite media units have concluded that what began as an “industry coping mechanism for the consumer attention crisis” is evolving into more targeted forms of television that are accelerating how viewers interact and participate with the medium.

The report, a collaboration of the IPG Media Lab and Magna Global, also finds that despite the explosion of screens with which consumers watch or supplement television, the vast majority of it still happens in the living room, on a couch.

“Seventy percent of our client’s money is still spent in the living room, trying to reach people watching TV. And that’s stable,” says Natalie Bokenham, director of strategy at IPG Media Lab -- who, along with Magna Senior Vice President Audience Analytics Brian Hughes, are authors of the report, “Second Screen Marketplace: Trends and Opportunities.”



Their conclusion is that while overall TV ad spending is remaining constant, as is the amount of time consumers spend watching the medium, it is becoming fragmented across an increasing number of screens.

Interestingly, the Interpublic study is being released just as another researcher, IHS Inc., released a forecast projecting the number of Internet-connected video devices will exceed the global population by 2017. While an Internet-connected device might be the primary TV screen in some of those markets, Interpublic concludes that in the U.S., the trend is definitely toward multiple screen experiences, and that the term “second screen” is a misnomer, because American TV viewers may actually be supplementing their TV experiences across an array of devices: PCs, tablets, gaming systems and smartphones.

“Why do we call it ‘second screen?” Bokenham asked rhetorically during a briefing with Media Daily News, adding: “To some, the second screen is becoming the first screen.” In fact, one of the more significant predictions made by the lab in the report, is that within three to five years, a mobile-based screen will become the primary “content hub” for consumers, relegating the traditional television set to a “dumb screen” status.

6 comments about "Coping With Tablet Potatoes, Interpublic Finds 'Second Screens' Are Still Primarily A Couch Experience".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, October 9, 2013 at 2:13 p.m.

    So, Natalie, let me see if I have this right: I'm in my living room watching TV while at the same time tweeting with my smartphone and Facebooking with my iPad. By my reckoning, I'm spring-loaded to avoid literally hunbdreds of ads at the same time! I'd love to hear the rationale behind this being an opportunity worth 70% of my budget. I can just imagine the rationale for the other 30%! And, you realize, of course, that the set top boxes registering viewership during the commercial breaks are actually measuring the most distracted, disenfranchised viewer of all -- one whose attention is otherwise occupied with one or more of that "array of devices" Joe cites here. To assume anybody so predisposed is actually watching a :30 second TV commercial in the manner in which it was intended to be watched (uninterrupted in real time), let alone spending any measurable time whatsoever perusing the ads online, is wishful thinking, and wishful thinking is a lousy branding strategy.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 9, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.

    Being in the same rooms with advertised-supported programming is not the same as watching any of the commercials. Handheld distractions cannot enhance the viewing of ads, but it might enhance the viewing of programs. Who makes money these days from the viewing of shows? Netflix, but not advertisers. And for what it's worth, my AdBlock Plus app is even more effective than my TiVo.

  3. natalie bokenham from IPG Media Lab, October 9, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.

    Mike, thank you for your comment. The point we are making is that 70% of our clients’ budget is spent in the living room – to date all on TV advertising. What we see happening in the future is the distribution of this budget across different screens, since as you point out - attention is being fragmented across an “array of devices.” Going forward, we see brands having not so much a “TV strategy” as much as a “living room strategy.” See the full report here and let me know if you have further questions:

    Also worth checking out this other Lab study, which shows that video consumption, regardless of screen, happens in the living room during primetime. As such, we don’t see attention (or budget) shifting from the living room anytime soon.

  4. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, October 9, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.

    Well said Mike Einstein....well said. How on Earth 70% of marketing budgets go towards Television when we all know the audience is beyond distracted is reprehensible. There are no more "Mean Joe Green" commercials or "Where's the Beef?" spots. When was the last time anyone talked about a great commercial at work the next day, or even hummed a catchy tune from an ad? (i.e. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony")....the answer is we don't because commercials are a time suck and we avoid them at all costs. The only ads I recall these days are on the NY Times Ipad app or at gas pumps for crying out loud! Traditional commercial TV viewing is a over...

  5. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, October 9, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.

    Come to think of it, Superbowl ads fall way short and that is the one day out of the entire year that we all anxiously wait to see commercials. Even that day has become a mockery at this point.

  6. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, October 9, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.

    Great point Doug.

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