There is no question that the power of digital devices is more prominent than ever before in the lives of U.S. consumers. Media use and consumption are now being characterized by the fact that consumers are utilizing multiple devices simultaneously. It is now commonplace for people to use the screen that is most readily available and convenient, which may result in consumers watching television, while using their smartphone or tablet as well. In fact, this is the most common way that consumers multitask when it comes to media consumption.
The Use of the Second Screen
This multi-media experience often coincides with the show or advertisement that is on TV at the time, while other times it is a completely unrelated activity. While there are a large number of viewers who actively use technology for ad-skipping or just tune out the ads altogether, a study from Millward Brown Digital found that more people utilized a second screen during an actual show than during the commercials.
Second Screen Activities
The most prevalent activities that took place on a second screen, during an actual show and the commercials, was visiting social media and checking email. Following those activities was calling someone or texting, followed further by shopping and Internet searches. An activity that was pretty far down on the list of second screen activities includes looking up information about a particular show or looking for brands or products that were advertised during the commercials.
The bottom line of this information is that the digital activity of consumers during a television show really has nothing to do with the show that is being watched or the commercials. In most cases, viewers simply drift from the program, distracted or more interested in their digital devices. This is a representation of how the television has shifted roles from the primary focal point to just one of several screens that are competing for consumers’ attention.