How Retail Can Own The Second Screen

How often do you sit down just to watch TV? No cell phone, no laptop, and no interruptions from anybody or anything. If you’re anything like the rest of us, then chances are, probably not often.

Around 87% of people are using their smartphone or tablet while watching television. Talk about passive engagement! Fear of missing out (FOMO) is well and truly a social issue; people have the need to hold onto their mobile devices as tight as they can, all the time.

The concern for advertisers and brands is to find a way to integrate the content between screens.


As you can see, viewers become more engaged with television ads when using a synced application, than if they were just viewing the ad normally. Consequently there have been many campaigns branching out into second screen interactive experiences. And smartly so, the level of programme related tweets and Facebook posts go through the roof when shows are aired. An example of this was during the Breaking Bad finale where there were over 300,000 Breaking Bad related tweets. That is a large proportion of viewers to get engaged with on a second screen!

Here in New Zealand, television viewers may be familiar with pluk.


During the 2013 season of ‘The Block NZ’ adverts from sponsors (Kiwibank and Bunnings) were pluk enabled. If you had downloaded the pluk app you could launch it when an advert had the pluk symbol. The app would then listen to the ad and then redirect you to extra content. For example, the Bunnings ads would forward you to DIY videos. Once the series ended there were 53,026 registered pluk accounts and 67,731 pluks.

More recently the American television series ‘Cougar Town’ teamed with retailer Target to bring viewers the opportunity to purchase household objects that the characters have in their homes. The moment an object, like a vase, appeared on the television, viewers were encouraged to purchase that item on their second screen. A user friendly website was used which included information on characters, Cougar Town Trivia and the all-important Shop Cougar Town section.


The main viewers of Cougar Town fall into the target audience of Target, so their pairing is one that should appeal to those who engage with the show. Other apps based on the same premise are starting to appear left right and centre.

Another excellent example is the television network CBS. They developed their own second screening app that diverges away from selling products to providing extra content. ‘CBS Connect’ allows users to chat live with other viewers, and have interactive experiences for selected shows. They get access to behind-the-scenes footage and insights from the creative teams behind shows like CSI and NCIS. Fans have been checking in and getting increasingly involved with the online content causing CBS to expand its current offering.

There are only going to be more second screen applications developed as brands and advertisers try to find the method that works best for their target audience. Some advertisers are seeking to play on the FOMO principle in relation to special features on the content related apps. This is a great way to capitalise on the trending social process of not being able to disconnect.

Are you going to find a way to reconnect with the people trapped between screens? Or are you going to get stuck in a box?

Author: Carmen McDougall (Clemenger Graduate)