Second screen anatomy: what do audience really need?

Written on 13 February 2014
By: Emanuela Zaccone

Is there a magic formula for Social TV? We know what really matters is user behavior, but what are the best components that can create the perfect app? Let's try to understand the value of each element.

Fact: people keep doing things while watching TV.
We know, for example, that our users launch Juventus Live and TOK Baseball to talk to friends OR simply to check sports score. The habit is there, it is daily and per game, our users keep growing and we are seeing a clear path to monetization (that’s why we launched sync adv). In its Q4 2013 report, the 2nd Screen Society points out the growth of devices and forecasts a market increase: up to $ 8.9 B by 2018.


At least, now we know check-ins and gamification strategies do not work. Not because they are useless, but because they are old and only for a niche audience (for the 2012 SuperBowl, I wrote that check-in based systems were going to die. Two years later, they are actually moribund...).

These are hooks to keep users engaged, to bring people on your platform while they are watching TV. But the action itself? Not enough for 2014 audiences.

Point 1: Everybody is a broadcaster
Personalization is the core of Social Media experience: Twitter is experimenting a brand new profiles layout, Facebook seems to have found a stable solution with cover photos and diaries, while content curation websites like Pinterest keep growing. The engine is always the same: we want to broadcast our own experience, to make it a shared experience (and broader).
As Lauren Zalaznick stated: ‘Our Audiences Have Audiences Of Their Own’.
We are no longer engaging with a TV program, we’re expanding it. Exponentially.

Point 2: Tease me, don’t bother me.
Chuck Parker perfectly summed it up, listing five reasons why for second screen: we use it to control, to discover, to enhance, to share, to multitask.
Choose your way, mix up some of them, but they all matter.
How much involved should we be? It depends from what kind of experience are we searching for.
As we wrote in the 2nd Screen Journal, ‘second screen must be an enabler’ to make TV Social again.

Point 3: Hello second screen app/platform producer, do you want to monetize with me? Catch me.
Personalization brings a marketing implication: while I can buy what I see on TV thanks to ad sync, I can also explore my own interests. Who tracks what I tweet during a TV program or which is my favorite team?

Point 4: Give me some space
You know why everybody keeps thinking of Social TV as a battle between Twitter and Facebook? Because they are spaces that you can “manipulate”.
No big prerequisites: just use a hashtag.
No device barrier: tweet/post from PCs or mobile.
No learning required: you know that thing you do multiple times a day? It’s the same when watching TV.
No strings attached: we don’t need to be friends or follow each other, we just meet for a while around a hashtag, then we say good bye.
Can second screen app do the same? Obviously. We know people talk about Juventus or baseball games, but they do it as if they were at home. We give them their privacy back.

Social TV is alive and kicking. Because it has just begun its transformation. Acquisitions do not mean that market is full, but that some are dead roads. It is a sign of maturation. Monetization is the proof of survival. Darwin at work. Long live Social TV.

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