By Gary Kim published February 7, 2012

Super Bowl was a Two-Screen Experience

For decades, lots of attention has been devoted to making TV more interactive, but Super Bowl viewers showed Sunday that they already use TV in an interactive way, but with two screens, not one. And that second screen increasingly is a mobile device.

During Super Bowl XLVI, 41 percent of Google searches related to Super Bowl ads were made from mobile devices.

And that behavior is not unusual. A Nielsen poll found that about 45 percent of respondents who own both smartphones and tablets say they routinely multitask while watching television.

Separately, a nationwide poll commissioned by Velti  indicated nearly 60 percent of mobile users planned to use their mobile device during this year’s Super Bowl.

The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, also suggested that nearly a third of viewers under the age of 45 would be watching the game with their device in hand, while almost half of all viewers age 18 and older expected to check or use their device up to 10 times during the game.

You might say much television viewing has become a two-screen experience, with complicated implications for content marketing or advertising. The Google data suggests users were prompted to engage more heavily with brands featured in commercial breaks during the Super Bowl. For advertisers spending $3.5 million for each 30-second spot, use of the second screen might be seen as a positive.

The Velti study found that 13 percent of viewers were likely to use their mobile devices during game play, while about 26 percent expected to use them during commercial breaks. So commercial breaks were twice as likely to be the times when users were turning to the second screen.

“Mobile is the second screen that completes the full circle of user engagement, turning advertising into content,” said Krishna Subramanian, Velti chief marketing officer.

That might be true when the content users are looking for on the second screen is related directly to a brand’s ad and message.

On the other hand, users often are multitasking in ways that compete with TV ads for attention. A study by Razorfish and Yahoo found that 38 percent of survey respondents found use of the Internet on a mobile or tablet device an enhancement to the viewing experience while watching TV.

That suggests an opportunity to build more directly on television as a two-screen experience. TV executives with long memories will remember the last 30 years of thinking about interactive TV, when researchers, suppliers and pundits looked for ways to create compelling experiences based on viewer input and response.

As it turns out, users already have voted on how they want to interact, and it involves the Internet and a second screen of some sort, including PCs, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.

The Razorfish study found the top five content categories that seem to encourage multitasking are

  1. Reality shows
  2. News programs
  3. Comedy episodes
  4. Sports events
  5. Food programming

But most advertisers did not actively incorporate social media or overt Web addresses in their TV ads shown during the Super Bowl.

According to an analysis by Altimeter Group, 32 percent of the ads had no references to websites or social media sites, and only Best Buy had an “Act Now” promotion.

Still, the two-screen trend seems well established. TV is no longer a passive experience, but it is now interactive in ways that some might not have foreseen. And content marketers and advertisers need to pay attention to that and adjust.

Football trophy image via Shutterstock.

Author: Gary Kim

Gary Kim has been a communications industry analyst and journalist for more than 25 years, and currently writes mostly about end user behavior, mobile applications, mobile payments, mobile banking and business models in the broadband ecosystem. He recently was cited as a global "Power Mobile Influencer" by Forbes; ranked second in the world for strategic coverage of the mobile business. He writes for several online content sites, including Carrier Evolution, IP Carrier, Mobile Marketing & Technology, Content Marketing Institute and TMCnet. He also contributes to Razorsight and Accedian blogs. Follow him on Twitter@garykim.

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