Despite predictions of strangulation by newer modes of delivery, TV still dominates video consumption. Although younger audiences use a wider variety of devices (computers/tablets/mobiles) than an older audience, most of us, most of the time, continue to watch our favourite programmes on TV.


Short form videos might have found a natural home online – but for every other genre, most of us would rather watch our TV than any other device.


Now, this could change in years to come. Generation Z’ers will be truly digital native consumers in a way that no other generation has been, and you would expect that to naturally impact on the way they consume their video. Also, who knows what direction new technology will take the video (and video advertising) industries? But for the here and now, we accept the primacy of the same device that our parents, and their parents watched.


However, that is not to say that our viewing habits haven’t substantially changed from that of previous generations. First, there are a million channels, all fighting for your time. The days of 1 or 2 channel mass media broadcasting/advertising are long gone. The consumer is king, and their ability to choose has to be respected. The second big change concerns the rise of the second screen. Nearly ⅔ of teenagers in the UK use a second screen while watching TV, and the usage for the general population isn’t that far behind – more than 6 out of every 10 adults in the UK are reportedly watching TV while maintaining contact with a second screen.


As a relatively new development, the definition of second screen usage hasn’t been pinned down yet (Ofcom cover this state of uncertainty well in this research document). Some tend to focus on the specific apps or web/mobile content, proactive and directly related to the main TV content. An early example of this definition is provided by the Giro 2.0 in 2012, a project that ran simultaneously to the Giro d’Italia road cycling race. The project looked to capture the captive audience by using exclusive and relevant Facebook content to turn the TV audience into a digital audience too – making friends and capturing data and emails along the way.


A broader definition would see the second screen as being a serendipitous intimate. Social media as the always on, reactive water cooler to whom you can turn to when you want to share your thoughts and emotions while watching TV. An obvious example would be a hashtag that is used on Twitter during a TV show. This doesn’t necessarily involve any less work on the part of the marketing departments than the first, more obvious definition. Preparation can see media owners and advertisers ‘own’, or at least take part in the conversation and keep the consumers in a virtuous brand cycle.


However it is implemented, second screen strategy should revolve around social media and interaction. Making the brand available on the second screen is a must for TV programs and advertising campaigns that want to maximise their reach and potential. Let’s end with this take home stat (provided by research done by media law firm Wiggin) that should grab every marketing departments attention:


There is an appetite to respond directly to advertising seen on TV: over 1 in 3 internet users expressed an interest in buying a product on the spot.


Ultimately, effective second screen strategy will reduce the distance between advert and conversion, and help the consumer satisfy that appetite.