The birth of TV over 50 years ago forever transformed the way people view the world.

Now, another major change is occurring: the transition from passive to interactive television viewing.

The technologies behind the internet, mobile devices and television are converging to form a new and more engaging viewing experience, and consumer electronics manufacturers, technology providers, advertisers and broadcasters alike are fighting for their piece of the pie in the new digital landscape.

Key to this vision of the future of TV is handing control of the viewing experience back to the consumer and allowing them to engage with content on their own terms. What was once considered a passive activity has evolved to become an interactive experience, with mobile devices – the “second screen” – driving this trend and acting as a companion to our television viewing. 

Mobile usage is rapidly taking over as a standard way of life as the number of mobile connections worldwide rises to an all-time high. In fact, within the next three years, mobile access to the internet will surpass that of computers.

The claim that mobile devices are increasingly serving as a second-screen is supported by a recent study conducted by media research company Nielsen, which surveyed smartphone and tablet users in the US. 

The research found that:

  • 88% of respondents use their mobile device while watching TV
  • 45% used their mobile devices to access social networking during TV ads
  • 27% looked up product information for ads they saw
  • 22% looked up coupons or deals related to the ads

When you look at these findings together, you have more than a trend – you have a tidal wave that points to mobile devices – both phone and tablet – as the ideal candidate to revolutionize a new category called “media engagement.”  More and more people everyday are using their mobiles to consume content and interact with what they are watching on television, whether it’s to get more information about the shows they love or get information about and order products they want to buy in the moment.

At Shazam, we have proven that content drives media engagement, creating a rich TV offering that includes access to exclusive information and offers, as well as social features.

We’ve seen firsthand the power of interactive adverts at last year’s Super Bowl, when we partnered with a third of the brands that advertised during the event, including Toyota, Pepsi, Disney and US electronics retailer, Best Buy, to make their Super Bowl television adverts Shazam-enabled.

Viewers were able to use their mobile phones to enter draws to win prizes, see exclusive content and receive special offers. This dramatically increased brand awareness, with engagement numbers in the millions.

More recently, we launched our first interactive ad campaigns in the UK with Pepsi Max and Cadbury during ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent finale and received 50,000 tags in just 1 minute of airtime.  On average, 65% of people who tag ads and shows go on to interact further.

As the digital revolution continues unabated, it is imperative that advertisers and broadcasters consider a second-screen strategy.  Our research demonstrates definitively that the second-screen enables them to extend engagement time, thus turning a 30-second ad into several minutes of engagement, building brand affinity, increasing word of mouth and social activities, and improving product and message recall.

TV companion apps offering this added content also provide an exclusive experience that keeps viewers engaged in a show from episode to episode. Increased viewership, of course, is why networks are so attracted to second screen capabilities which bridge the gap from one episode to the next, ultimately turning a casual viewer into a fan.

With the content revolution in full swing, the way TV is watched is fundamentally changing in today’s multi-screen environment, becoming more personal, interactive and engaging. The TV industry is on the verge of an incredible transformation and using innovative technology such as the second-screen allows brands to get closer to consumers and, crucially, to extend their engagement beyond the 30-second adverts to a deeper, more interactive brand experience.


 David Jones is the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Shazam.

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