We live in a multi-screen world. No matter what developments in the short term future occur, we will most likely continue to utilize a myriad of screens for a plethora of needs. Now, as this screen-filled world grows there is quite a bit of debate on any and every possible topic when it comes to television and entertainment across connected devices. I tend to hit on many of these in my writing, and my firm CTV Advertising tends to touch on these even more with our clients.

That said, there are some factors that are stable, that will barely change and that entertainment, advertising and content organizations should be focused on nearly as much as their conjecture and debate on unknowns and predictions. These truths  may be evident and will not change drastically, yet rarely do they come into the conversation or taken into consideration. Where do these factors lie? Within basic human psychology and cognition.

The human mind will continue to manage content in the ways it’s always been wired to- though the methods in which we can be presented with TV entertainment have drastically changed.  

Books could be written on this topic. Luckily there are many obvious lessons that we have learned about the nature of TV entertainment and how the human mind reacts to it over decades of experience. There is far less understanding however, when we bring the mind away from just TV watching and into deeper multiscreen experiences.  I will quote an item from a differing context that a representative of Netgem was kind enough of to share with me recently.

“We believe that the difficulty lies in supporting consumer behavior in what academics would label a psychosocial context. As the left side of the brain is engaged when browsing the internet, this is a rational act with active involvement. However viewing the television is both passive and emotional- the exact opposite behavior and it’s function lies in the right side of the brain. Switching from one hemisphere to the other creates confusion and can result in an uneasy behavior state.”

This is a deeply interesting thought when starting to think about  second screen companions, and how we start creating experiences with connected TV as well. The implications here for advertisers, content creators and experience creators can not be ignored.  Those who discover ways to bridge this gap, may find some real magic.  In the meantime, it should be at the least something to start taking into consideration when crafting user experiences.

Average Attention span capacity will not drastically change, yet the need to process, negotiate and capitalize on new disruptions will increase. 

The maintained estimates of human attention span is that focused attention span can be as brief as approximately 8 seconds long.  While this seems short, one must be careful not to confuse this with sustained attention spans which tend to fall around twenty minutes for most adults.  Focused attention is a short term response to stimuli, while sustained is the ability to stay on  task consistently over time. So in terms of our numerous devices,  there are potential interruptions that can disrupt our viewing, interaction, or engagement that may come from a differing screen outside of  the screen where we sustain our attention.

Furthering this point, many studies have found that  the more multitasking we tend to do, the less working memory we tend to have. This is something for advertisers to start thinking about. In a world where we increasingly multitask around the TV, how do we create at least 8 seconds of  enjoyable disruption- on any potential screen?  This seems to be somewhat uncharted territory for the ad world in a society where 80% of second screen users utilize their devices while watching TV. Creatives—start your engines.

Our cognitive decision making processes will not change, yet we will find ourselves in a world of ever-increasing  TV choices.  

There have been several studies that claim that choice is good, but only to a point. Colombia University’s Iyengar and Stanford’s Lepper  (JPSP Paper Vol 79, No 6) demonstrated empirically the downsides of excessive choice in a study which concluded that consumers were more likely to make a new purchase out of  a choice of 6 items rather than having 24 choices.  Rather than directing this at advertisers, I think there is room to direct this towards content owners/providers. We suddenly find ourselves in a place, where TV can offer nearly unlimited choice. How we go ahead and offer, package and allow discovery of  this however, will potentially determine success. While the idea of offering consumers anything at their fingertips may make sense in some scenarios, in other scenarios, less may be more. At the end of the day, unlimited entertainment choice may be an excellent thing, but only if consumers have an easy way to choose, categorize and ultimately decide upon it.

My commentary here is more of a thought experiment than an ability to go into solid further implications. I believe the actual implications may be able to be gathered in a multitude of directions. That said, we are in uncharted psychological territory. Territory that needs exploration and conclusions drawn across various disciplines with psychology playing a more central role.  Can you guess who we’ll be adding on to our consulting team in the near future?