The Re-socialization of TV: What Neuroscience Tells Us About TV Ads

What Neuroscience Teaches Us About Television

Have you ever tried to watch TV and scroll through your Twitter feed at the same time? Difficult, right? You may miss important plot points or memorable moments as you divide attention between two screens. But that makes sense. One would expect to retain less and miss more when attention is diverted. A study we conducted in tandem with The Seven Network and MEC Australia, however, suggests that the opposite might be true. As it turns out, when used correctly, the introduction of a second screen while watching TV can actually increase viewer engagement. Continue reading and watch the video below to find out how it works and what advertisers can do with this information.

The Re-socialization of TV

Television is and always has been a social phenomenon. If you’ve ever talked about your favorite show with friends or debated last week’s episode of the Bachelor at work, you’ve felt the social effects of TV. But the interaction between TV programs and the networks of people that watch them is far from understood. Until now, that is. And it may be more complex than previously thought.

Today, unlike the past, TV watchers can share their experience in real time via social media and interact with other fans digitally. This is what we call the Social TV Phenomenon. Previously, viewers would have to wait until at least the next day to discuss the show with friends. Now, those watching TV can interact with other viewers in the moment.  Conventional wisdom assumes that the distraction of this second screen (a phone or tablet) is detrimental to the first (TV). Our findings suggest otherwise. Tweeting during a football game or interacting with friends during a TV show actually increases user engagement.

Using our patented SST technology, we helped The Seven Network conduct a world-first study. Unlike focus groups and traditional research, our technology allows us to report on data that respondents wouldn’t otherwise be able to articulate for themselves. User engagement is one such metric that traditional methods of data collection are unable to reach.

The details of the study are included in the above video, but the main takeaway is that viewers, on average, experience a 9% increase in TV engagement and a 26% increase in engagement across the entire program when the second screen is introduced. TV on its own only produces a mild viewer response and plateaus early in programming. Having a second screen and interacting with relevant content during a program takes that engagement to heights that would otherwise be unreachable.

How Can Advertisers Use This Information?

Not only are viewers more engaged in the TV program post second-screen reintroduction, their heightened engagement is driven by an increase in detail memory, which means advertisements become more memorable and, therefore, more effective. What advertisers can take away from this is that TV programs which have a strong presence and community on social media, may be more effective platforms for advertisements.  If you want to learn more about how this phenomenon works or how our technology can help brands better understand and reach their consumers, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions.

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