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Tune in, turn on and engage

Robb Beeston, managing director of Beamly, a social and content network for television, shares his insights into customer engagement in the multiscreen environment.

Tune in, turn on and engage

Most of us inhabit a world of screens. We are constantly receiving messaging through our televisions, smartphones, laptops, tablets or gaming consoles, and most of us are consuming content across multiple screens at the same time.

The extent of our multiscreen use is revealed in a recently released Telstra whitepaper Beyond the box: How the second screen is changing the media landscape. The research looks into when and, more importantly, why people in Australia reach for a second screen.

When do viewers multiscreen?

The research reveals that the vast majority (80 per cent) of this second-screen use is not related to primary screen programming, although with some genres, multiscreen use is deeply and directly related.

The study found that viewer behaviour and use of a second screen is largely dependent on the genre the viewer is watching. Viewers are less likely to reach for their smartphones or tablets when watching compelling content, such as drama or sitcoms, while multiscreening is almost routine during genres such as lifestyle, sports and reality TV shows.

Second screen a marketer’s dream

This deeper understanding of how and why people use multiple screens creates a huge opportunity for marketers willing to embrace the complex but rewarding multiscreen format.

Robb Beeston, general manager of Beamly Australia, is building a strong business around the multiscreen phenomenon. Originally launched in the United Kingdom as zeebox, Beamly operates in the United States, UK and Australia, helping advertisers to bridge the gap between conventional broadcast content and multiscreen engagement.

“We wrap around television in particular, so we’re a place where true fans of television are able to come and find out news, interact with celebrities, find out about their favourite show, talk about their favourite show with other fans of the show, play games, that sort of stuff,” Beeston says. “We offer brands an opportunity to wrap around genres or specific shows, so what it’s great for is extending that broadcast campaign off the TV and into the online environment.”

A gateway to products and brands

The Telstra whitepaper highlights the opportunity services such as Beamly create not only to engage more deeply with related second-screen behaviour, but also to pick up on the 80 per cent of viewers using the second screen for unrelated activity.

Whitepaper author Kathy-Anne McManus suggests the second screen should not be seen so much as a competitor to broadcast content but more as a gateway to products and brands that the viewer genuinely values.

“What if the viewer knew they could grab a second screen and access content that had been tailored precisely to their personal taste?” McManus asks in the report. “By providing the distracted TV viewer with relevant, personalised content, media organisations could actually harness the power of the habit loop – the urge to reach for a second screen during moments of inattention to the primary screen.”

A deep understanding

McManus goes on to warn broadcasters and marketers not to be slow in embracing the second-screen phenomenon, or to ignore the availability of actionable analytics that provide a deep understanding of viewer behaviour and motivations.

“Those who do engage with the second screen to gain a deeper understanding of their viewers – and drive brand awareness and loyalty – will enhance their programming and marketing decision-making and also their ability to increase revenue streams across the many ways we view and engage with content today,” McManus concludes.


Multiscreen marketing
  • The phenomenon of multiscreening is related to the genre of the content – compelling content that requires more focus means the viewer is less likely to resort to another screen
  • Most second-screen use (80 per cent) is not related to whatever is on the primary screen
  • An understanding of second-screen use can provide deep insights into viewer interests and engagement
  • Second-screen use should not be seen so much as a competitor to broadcast content but more as a gateway to products and brands that the viewer genuinely values
  • Broadcasters and marketers should be making moves to integrate second-screen use into broadcast production and campaign design.

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