Today Twitter announced that it bought Bluefin Labs, a software company that analyzes online conversations about television programming. Here's why.
A decade ago pundits predicted that the battle for Interactive TV would be won by whichever company owned the set top box. Perhaps a Cable TV company, or Microsoft's Xbox.
This didn't turn out to be true. Like most bad predictions, we based our view of the future on what we knew in the moment. We didn't know what we didn't know. For example, in 2003 we did not know about Smartphones, Tablets and WiFi enabled homes. These three technologies have since conspired to bring about a new form of interactive television – second screen viewing.
Americans are increasingly watching TV while interacting with the content via a mobile device – aka, the second screen. We share our opinions about what we're watching on TV on Twitter and Facebook. We quickly research information about the product we just saw advertised.
A 2012 Nielsen research study shows that:
- 88% use a mobile device while watching TV.
- 45% use a mobile device to access social media during TV ads.
- 27% look up information about a product they just saw (slightly higher among women than men).
- Not surprisingly, this behavior is higher among teens that older boomers (62% vs. 33%).
The second screen revolution is prompting advertisers to rethink the old school call-to-action. Instead of inviting viewers to visit www.whatever.com, we are seeing a steady increase in calls-to-action to join a twitter conversation (via a #hashtag), to get deeper content by using Shazam to tag the commercial, or simply to visit the brand on Facebook, the website the viewer is likely already on as they're viewing the commercial.