Twitter Has Big Dreams for the ‘Second Screen’

But while the concept has potential, it's far from perfect

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The obvious follow-up, though: Who cares?

Well, if the “second screen” trend continues, Twitter is an obvious winner. It could be heading for an IPO with a much strong revenue stream than social rival Facebook (FB), which struggled at first to turn its huge base into huge profits, and which is still playing catch-up in the real-time conversation realm.

Another clear winner — tablet- and smartphone-makers, including Apple, Samsung and Google (GOOG). The television integration is just one illustration of the promising reality for these companies: These gadgets are becoming important to nearly all corners of our worlds.

Plus, television networks could cash in on this trend as well. A second path for placing ads in front of viewers is a second path for ad sales, after all.

Of course, going back to the original study about tablet and smartphone use during TV-watching, it is also willfully naive to assume that the second screen is the only additional one. Countless viewers likely tweet about Game of Thrones from their smartphones … while browsing Facebook and eating dinner.

That picture is quite different from the one Twitter paints in its television commercial for television commercials. Twitter says: “We believe a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it very likely saw the commercials as well.”

I say Twitter is underestimating the multitasking ability of today’s viewers. Heck, just consider a study recently reported by PandoDaily. It’s not specifically about social media or TV, but that still illustrates just how fragmented our use of smartphones and tablets already is.

Data point No. 1: The number of people who open news apps has grown by almost 40% year-over-year. This supports the growing importance of tablets and smartphones. But data point No. 2: Session lengths on those apps have fallen by 26%.

Wanna know why? Because folks are checking them in between Twitter, or in between TV commercials.

That raises an obvious wrinkle in Twitter’s and TV’s dream: With our attention so dispersed, can we really be immersed in anything?

And that says nothing of the fact that viewers can (and do) tweet about shows without turning on the TV in the first place — as appeared to be the case with SyFy’s Sharknado. Enter Janko Roettgers’ claim that the television is the real second screen and the smartphone or laptop is the primary one.

Still, at this stage in the game, even if second-screen targeting is far from perfect, it just might be the best option there is. Our media consumption is fragmented, so advertisers are left with little choice but to try and cover all the fragments.

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.


Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, http://investorplace.com/2013/08/second-screen/.

©2014 InvestorPlace Media, LLC

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