Engaging Your Audience: Unlocking and Optimizing Multi-Screen Opportunities

By Jennifer Knodler

We can’t imagine we’re alone as we notice a dramatic change in the needs of our customers. It seems that rather than independently testing how users consume the lean-back broadcast experience and the lean-forward web and mobile experience as we did in the past, top brands are seeking our expertise to understand how these two mediums collide and complement one another.

With Nielsen reporting that 60 percent of people surf the web while watching TV, we certainly can’t blame them. Consumers are hungry for a complete “infotainment” experience and are consuming media on multiple screens that target specific content, device or individual demographics. Most importantly, though, these people still indicate a refusal to abandon traditional broadcasting altogether. This leaves a lot for our clients to learn by observing and collecting data as users toggle their attention between the technology (e.g. iPad, laptop, or mobile phone) in their hand and that big HD flat screen on their wall.

TV is one, but what are the other screens?
This concept has evolved rapidly. In a short time, we went from simply gaining a bit more information by using the digital menus that our cable providers deliver to being able to chit chat about what the stars have on at the Oscars in chat forums and via twitter feeds on the traditional web. Now, we have specially designed applications, synched by sound, that are designed to simultaneously augment the viewing experience by promoting social and engaging experiences! The second and third screen is alive and well and the delivery system is our laptop, tablet and/or smartphone.

Who is taking advantage? (…and who SHOULD be.)
As our investigative research continues, we can’t help but think there is still a lot of room for improvement as companies endeavor to blend screen one with the others. Some have given it a shot but still haven’t found that sweet spot of allowing a passive and active experience to live in harmony, and some have yet to consider this opportunity. Take Jeopardy for example. I can only imagine that the viewing experience on Jeopardy would be enhanced with the ability to play along with the audience and compare myself to the contestants as they play live! Sure, I can download their HD iPad app, but it wouldn’t be easy to respond to both the questions on the app AND participate on TV. I don’t know about you, but they’d lose me on one of these interfaces and there’s always a chance that they’d lose me for good. Others, like Disney, have pushed this to the next level. With the release of their TRON and Bambi second screen app your iPad or laptop interacts with you along the same timeline as your movie. The design promotes the synchronized companion experience that they’re seeking and they hang on to the viewership and therefore the ability to advertise to you on both channels.

But it’s not over. The race is on to create a solution that executes this perfectly.

What is KLI doing to enhance these experiences?
One of our clients said it best: “I want to create a unified and seamless user experience for my audience, regardless of how tech-savvy (or not) they may be”. And it was born. Appropriately, we’ve called this experimental design “Unified User Experience Research”. We dig in and learn what users love and what frustrates them about splitting their attention between these screens. We listen to and observe them, and we take their feedback and ultimately arrive at qualitative and quantitative data points to inform design – and put bigger smiles on the faces of the users AND the clients. In this process, we’re helping our clients understand how to blend the channels, how to hook their audience and encourage use of the second channel even when after the credit screen has rolled on the primary broadcast.

The results of this work have been enlightening. We’ve seen dramatic increases in retention and engagement! Above all, we’re thrilled to be part of the process as this concept is optimized and evolves to become standard.

Take a look at these other second screen experiences:
Prime Time Audience:
ABC: Greys Anatomy Synchronized Experience
FOX Broadcasting for Bones & Glee

Sports:
NBA GameTime Courtside by NBADigital

News:
MSNBC’s Lean Forward Campaign

For Kids (or the kid-at-heart):
Disney: TRON and Bambi Second Screen
& Vanessa, a two-year old little munchkin loved by all of us at KLI, has a favorite interactive experience that keeps Dora the Explorer on her mind. What’s better than watching Dora WHILE playing along with the Explorer on the iPad?

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