Multiple screens increase TV and ad viewing

A new Thinkbox study reveals that using a second screen whilst watching television actually encourages TV and advertisement viewing.

The study called “Screen Life”, conducted by COG Research for Thinkbox, reveals that the act of multi-screening – watching TV while simultaneously engaging with laptop, smartphone or tablet – increases the amount of time spent watching a programme and accompanying advertisements. Most interestingly, it also found that ad recognition was not affected by the second screen.

Participants in the study also said that multi-screening made them feel closer to the programme they were watching, as it enabled them to immediately search for more information, share with their friends online and participate.

The method

Screen Life analysed the programme and ad break engagement of 700 hours of TV viewing gathered from 23 multi-screening households in the UK. This was coupled with self-reporting from the households, which involved a lab test to examine ad recognition; and online research of 2,000 people with TV and online access.

“Multi-screening is a huge benefit and opportunity for TV advertisers,” says Neil Mortensen, Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director.

“Not just because it encourages people to watch more TV and more ad breaks – and does not adversely affect ad recognition – but because viewers now have the ability to act on what they see immediately. We’ve always multi-tasked in front of the TV but two screening is an incredibly complementary accompaniment.”

This news that a second screen offers an exceptionally high level of engagement and opportunities with velocity in UK sales is great news for advertisers.

“We have seen these "duel/second screen" audiences grow significantly over the last year, with mobile alone achieving a one in four average,” says Richard Hicks, Head of Mobile at ITV.

“Leveraging quality editorial and large audiences with live event TV has been the main driver and we have seen phenomenal success with partnering ITV programmes with a mobile app, like Shazam."

Hicks says that multi-screening drives a higher level of engagement, a richer user experience through “connectivity” and new ways to engage with the user in real time.

“These channels must provide brands the advantages on offer and instant ROI beyond the spot. Integrating social media and other ways that consumers can have an opinion and voice is key,” he adds.

 Key stats

  • Multi-screening viewers stayed in the room for 81% of ad breaks, while viewers who were just watching television stayed in the room for 72%

  • 56% of 16-24-year olds have chatted about TV programmes or ads on a second screen

  • On average, when only one person was in the room and was multi-screening, 64% of their TV viewing sessions lasted for longer than 15 minutes. This compares to 47% when watching with no accompanying activity

  • In lab tests, there was no significant difference in the level of ad recognition between people when multi-screening or only watching TV


For more information, visit the Thinkbox website.
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