Unpacked: Using Tech While Watching TV

I would like to draw a correlation between something interesting that was revealed this week by Facebook on their earnings call with this week’s column. Facebook had a very impressive quarter. Two particular metrics stand out to me, as visualized by Tech.pinions author Jan Dawson’s wonderful quarterly deck service.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.48.37 PM

Facebook has found their groove. It took them a while and, after many hard lessons learned working with advertisers and optimizing Facebook to be a valuable place for them, they have cracked the nut. There was real concern about whether or not Facebook could continue to be a viable advertising platform. Nearly everything they showed this quarter proved they could. Besides the impressive revenue growth, they turned their YoY decline around. It is trending up and that is likely to continue.

One of their buy side analysts revealed on the earnings call that Facebook made up about eight percent of total daily media time spent. Meaning, 8% of a person’s time-consuming media (video, tv, movies, gaming) was on Facebook. During the call, many analysts asked questions related to Facebook’s strategy to continue to acquire ad dollars as advertisers shift from TV to the internet. Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, made a comment I thought was interesting. She stated, “We think ads on Facebook go along nicely with TV ads.” Mark Zuckerberg continued to explain what the sports portals or other dedicated fan sites were doing to compliment TV. What they were both pointing out was a reality we all have experienced — we watch TV and check Facebook at the same time. Today’s statistic is to unpack that dual-screening reality.

Here is the percentage of global consumers who say they actively use said device while watching TV:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.13.01 PM

Resist the urge to overanalyze the trend lines of all devices. That may be for a later Unpacked. Do note though, the vast majority of consumers use a second screen personal computer while watching TV. In total, just about 80% of consumers globally admitted to doing this regularly. Not terribly surprising. Tying this back to Facebook, we found 33% of respondents said they were active on a social network on a device while watching TV. Thanks to some pre-qualifying questions, our data concludes Facebook is the social network most of them are referring to. Again, not shocking. Digging deeper into the cohort responses, we find the 16-35-year-old demographic ranked much higher in social networking while watching TV at 40%, although most teens don’t use FB that much. These demographics also ranked high in the “searching for something to buy” second screening activity with just under 30% indicating they do this regularly while watching TV.

What our data around this topic leads me to believe is Facebook is well positioned to sell and design advertising packages to compliment advertiser’s TV ads. Say I mention something about the Big Bang Theory on Facebook. The ad engine can then know what I’m watching and give the advertiser a way to piggyback on the ads they are running during that time slot and TV show in my Facebook feed. I can think of many examples of how this can happen and, if well done, it can be hugely valuable to the advertiser and possibly even the consumer.

Published by

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

3 thoughts on “Unpacked: Using Tech While Watching TV”

  1. I’d prefer to see a configuration where I could use a gesture when watching [interactive] TV that would bring up pre-encoded relevant video links (not just ads) from the primary content that I could watch while the content is paused. Single device augmented TV solution that is controlled by the viewer.

  2. I use a computer of some sort about 95% of the time I watch TV. I have never used Facebook in such a circumstance.

    The reason I use a computer with TV is because of the TV ads, and moving them makes them no more appealing. In fact, I like web ads much less than TV ads.

    There are large blocks of time while “watching TV with a computer” when I am totally oblivious to the TV. In these circumstances, the fact that there is some tie in between web ads and the TV content is lost on me.

    The notion that somehow I would become suddenly sympathetic to a web ad because of that TV stuff in the background is bizarre. And the notion that ads are of value to a consumer is bizarre, when in fact they are just a tax.

    But what is really appalling to me is the idea that Facebook will watch my behavior, infer what I am doing, and take action. Some possible actions are more noxious than just serving me ads I don’t like.

    A model based on me posting comments about a live TV show to Facebook presumes behavior patterns that I know some exhibit. I would question the value of that demographic to (most) advertisers.

    Surely, it is a self selecting population, though. So there’s that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *