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New report on “Social TV and the Second Screen”

While this blog sets out to address how tablets are affecting the publishing industry, I’d be remiss not to mention the “second screen” phenomenon, the growing tendency for people to use their tablets while watching television. I alluded to this trend in my recent post on “Game of Thrones,” which discussed some of the extra interactive features that you can view on your tablet while watching the actual episode (on TV or on your tablet). It seems that as people lean back to watch a TV show, they are also leaning forward to engage in digital content. 

Now, social media and business expert Stowe Boyd has released a report called “Social TV and the Second Screen,” which takes an in-depth look at this growing trend. The report finds that TV viewers are “increasingly likely to be using multiple devices at the same time. For example, watching a conventional TV screen while texting a friend on mobile phone, or discussing the show or game with friends on Facebook.” Boyd asserts that TV is becoming less like a main stage, and more like a backdrop for people to engage in social interaction. 

As TV viewing habits change, so will advertising. Boyd believes that the days of the 30-second TV commercial are nearing an end:

“New advertising models — ones that are much more aligned with web advertising models — are already emerging on the second screen, and these will lead to a rapid decrease in the profitability of the Old TV model as ads playing on the dumb TV device are displaced by ads and other forms of participative sponsorship on the second screen: on users’ smart phones and tablets.”

When I recently spoke with Annette King, chief executive at OgilvyOne UK, she reiterated this shift toward second-screen advertising, offering a tangible (and delicious) example. Let’s say that Jamie Oliver is making a special truffle recipe on his television show. King imagined an ad where you might “use your tablet to find out where truffles grow in the world or how to make Jamie’s recipe.” 

This intersection of leaning forward and leaning back might have profound implications for the publishing industry. Could magazine apps start to complement TV shows? I could imagine a travel magazine partnering with the Travel channel to offer viewers articles and trip recommendations. I’d certainly watch Anthony Bourdain travel to Lisbon while simultaneously looking up the best Lisbon eateries on my Travel and Leisure iPad app.  

Or, for the more civic-minded audience, perhaps the New York Times could develop an app for use during presidential debates. While viewers watch the debate on TV, they can use the app to look up more information on where a candidate stands on a certain issue, input their own thoughts on how persuasive a candidate is sounding, and see other opinions come streaming in. 

How do you think publishers could capitalize on the trend? What kind of magazine apps would you like to see in the future? Ideas are appreciated in the comments section below. 

You can read Stowe Boyd’s full report here