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Second Screen Apps as a New Way To Engage and Monetize

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 12 Jul, 2017
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Evolution of the TV watching experience

Not only did social networks change the way we stay in touch with friends, read the news and interact with brands, but also the way we watch TV. These days, our TV watching experience is no longer limited to the span of your living room coach – you can stay on the line friends and fellow fans and share your excitement about a new episode of a favorite show or a sports event without leaving the room. So it’s not surprising that content producers want to see us more and more involved and following them online, as it gives them a wealth of opportunities to keep us hooked and pitch commercial offers at just the right time. All that is required besides a television is an Internet-enabled phone, tablet or laptop – in other words, a second screen that extends and enhances the content that you receive on your primary screen.

Second screen value for businesses

According to experts, the second screen market will generate nearly 7 billion dollars of e-commerce and advertising revenue by the end of 2017. The number is so impressive that one cannot but ask the question “What’s in there for businesses?”

Second screen technologies encompass a lot more than just “social TV”. The main concept pivots around bringing people, advertisers, content producers and even celebrities together for a deeper, more interactive, engaging and personalized viewing experience, which applies to regular television and live broadcasts. The purpose of creating second screen experiences for viewers, apart from widening the fan base and viewership in general, is, of course, monetization. And that’s where options come in plenty:

Targeted ads

The presence of a second screen enables service providers to serve highly-targeted, personalized ads synched with the first screen and shown exactly when they are appropriate and most likely to result in a successful conversion. This could be a food delivery pitch during a restaurant scene or a link to a branded merchandise store during a season finale of a popular show.

Online sales (m-commerce)

The second screen concept takes product placement to a new level. Instead of making it far too conspicuous in the actual show or movie, content producers can now shift the focus to the second screen and offer viewers a selection of items featured on the screen of their TV. And in case of relatively inexpensive items that people tend to purchase impulsively, second screen conversion can be very high.

Memberships and subscriptions

The second screen is the right tool for providing an incentive for viewers to purchase subscriptions while the show or broadcast is still on. While high-quality content itself is a good enough impetus for making a purchase decision, few can resist the temptation to get more when it’s offered at the right time.

App revenue

Although the majority of second screen apps come for free as part of a marketing campaign, some may offer features so useful for viewers that they will be willing to pay for them. For instance, an app that shows live telemetry from a racing car or an app that provides detailed statistics in the form of graphs and tables in a football game can attract a lot of paying fans.

Big data

Products, services and memberships as a source of second screen monetization lie right on the surface. However, there is something behind this technology that may be just as, if not more, valuable to companies – data. Viewers’ behavior in social networks and second screen apps are a part of the big data puzzle and can if handled properly, provide extremely valuable and actionable insights to advertisers and content providers. In the end, analysis of this data may help create better products for wider audiences and generate more revenue per viewer. Not to mention that this data can be sold to third parties for the same purpose.

Bottom line: what does the future hold for the second screen?

As with pretty much anything in this life, we can’t be 100% sure about the future of second screen technologies, but current trends do point at some directions that have the potential of becoming mainstream in the years to come:

  • Not only television as we know it will be soon gone, but so will OTT. Instead, there will be just television of the new age, closely intertwined with apps, social networks and concepts like second - or multi-screen content consumption.
  • Other technologies likely to be thrown in the mix, like AI, speech recognition and AR/VR, will further shatter the boundaries between what once seemed to be coming from totally different worlds.
  • Content providers will be placing an increasingly strong focus on higher-quality second-screen apps capable of driving engagement and retaining viewership in the long run. To that end, these apps will have to offer unique value and functionality accessible instantly by all eligible audiences, but it will take a combined effort of content owners, advertisers and other parties to make a second screen a full-fledged part of the overall experience rather than an optional extra. And when they do and consumers see the real value of such apps, subscription-based monetization will be a real no-brainer.
  • Second screen apps may eventually include elements of face-to-face interaction via conferencing for deeper immersion and direct communication between friends, fans and even actors/hosts.

Efficient monetization of these technologies and second screen applications will, therefore, depend on the ability of companies to deliver real value to consumers by offering a new level of interactivity and serving ads tailored to the interests and behavioral patterns of an individual viewer. The TV industry has risen to the challenge, so a lot of things will be changing before you know it. The good news is that you can keep your old couch.

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By Expert commentator

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