TV and Social Media Are Changing Viewing Behaviors

Technology has changed the way many view TV; DVR’s allow us to record any program for future viewing. This behavior is appropriately called time shifting; time shifting allows consumers the convenience of viewing programming when they want and enables skipping through commercials, which is often perceived as a more efficient way to view TV.

Now add social to the technology…no doubt, TV viewing habits are undergoing significant change. In fact, new terminology is already emerging. Pew Research has coined the term “connected viewer” to describe someone who is using a smartphone or tablet to engage in some sort of social media activity while they are watching regular TV programming.

There are other new terms too, for example, two screen viewing is a popular term describing the same behavior.

According to Pew Research 74% of smartphone users are connected viewers.

Pew found that just about anyone with a cell phone was equally likely to use their phones for distracted TV viewing, irrespective of their demographics.

Two Screen Viewing

A recent Viacom survey indicated that 56% of respondents used social apps to interact with friends while watching their favorite TV show. Let that soak in for a moment. These numbers suggest there are big changes ahead for marketers.

Networks are starting to realize that “social” TV will have significant implications for ad deals and for the way they interact with viewers. Increasingly, consumers are less likely to be passive viewers. In fact, consumers now participate in determining the outcome of some reality TV shows, like Dancing with the Stars or American Idol. I am sure you can think of other examples.

Two Screen Viewing Behavior

Viewers today “want to have a more social experience around TV and see their friends’ reactions,” according to David Wertheimer, President of digital for Fox. Posting comments about TV shows on the major social networks like Twitter and Facebook grew 194% from April 2011 to April 2012 according to Mark Ghuneim, CEO of Trendrr.

The Viacom survey identified an average of seven different types of social TV activities on at least a weekly basis. Among the most common:

  • 85% were watching TV with others
  • 61% searched for supplemental content
  • 58% viewed TV show clips on social networks

Some specific activities on mobile devices included:

  • Communicating
  • Consuming Content
  • Checking Comments

71% used Location Based Services to check in to a show.

Social Media Customer Behavior

Networks are hard at work trying to figure out ways to capitalize on these new behavior trends. ABC recently built a companion web site for their Academy Awards show specifically designed to capture the attention of the connected viewers. The website provided additional behind-the-scenes content showing Oscar winner interviews and celebrations behind the scenes.

Network executives have also observed social media channels driving tune-in behavior, particularly during live events. Other execs are beginning to use some of the TV apps as a research tool.

Implications of Two Screen Viewing

So what is a marketer supposed to do with this information? For starters, consider some customer behavior analysis. Do you use any television advertising? To the extent your product or service is part of an advertising campaign try to take advantage of any opportunity to include a web site link in that advertising.

It’s important to make sure your website is mobile friendly, and we have previously blogged about this in our Marketing Insights Blog.  Increasingly your customers are going to be accessing your site on a mobile device. Browse your site from a smart phone or tablet so you will know what that experience is like. If you haven’t already optimize your site, or consider building a mobile site if necessary.

If you are using any location-based promotions, see if it might make sense to tailor an offer around a particular TV show or event. For more detailed information on this topic, we suggest you also read this location-based marketing post on the WindMill Networking website.

Although the overall numbers are large, media is quite fragmented, so identifying niche opportunities will be important. You will probably want to experiment, try different approaches.

Capturing the attention of connected viewers can be a great opportunity to further engage with your customers.

What do you think? How does your business capitalize on two screen marketing opportunities?