Television & Mobile Device, Like Peanut Butter & Jelly

Using a mobile device while watching television in America is becoming complementary…. one is consumed/used in conjunction with the other. Like…

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Hot Dog & Bun
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Vacation & Luggage

Marketing & entrepreneurship are key drivers in the proliferation of complementary products.  

Have you noticed outside the Apple store in your local mall a kiosk that sells and/or provides products and services for the iPhone?  This is a business concept developed as a complement to Apple products.

Or, that a hot dog is always sold with a bun at baseball games?  There are differing tails about how the hot dog met the bun, but the common thread to the stories is that entrepreneurs noticed a need and filled the void with a complementary product (NPR: How The Hot Dog Found Its Bun).

Think about when you go to purchase a toothbrush, the toothpaste is in the same aisle, next to or below the toothbrushes.  The product placement is strategic so that complimentary products are side by side.  Some supermarkets now place bananas in cereal aisles, so that shoppers are triggered to purchase bananas for their cereal.

The Second Screen

Now there are new complementary products… mobile devices & television.  Tablets and smartphones were not designed as second screens.  However, watching television with a mobile device in-hand has become a major part of consumer behavior – 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners use their device while in front of their TV screen (source: Nielsen Wire Social Media Report 2012).  Innovative marketers and entrepreneurs realize the opportunity that the second screen presents.


Image Source: Nielsen Wire Social Media Report 2012

There are some interesting differences on mobile device usage while watching television based on demographics (Source:  Nielsen Wire, Watching TV Don’t Forget your Smartphone, Tablet):

– Females use their smartphone more than males when watching television.

– Second screen is not only for the young.  Older age groups use tablets & smartphones during their television viewing.

– 25 to 34 age group is the biggest tablet user as second screen.

– 18-24 age is the greatest smartphone user as second screen.

Image source: Nielsen Wire, Watching TV Don't Forget your Smartphone, Tablet

Strategic Marketing for the Second Screen

With the growing trend of television and mobile devices going hand-in-hand, marketers and entrepreneurs are jumping on and riding the wave.  There are now second screen apps to increase engagement – GetGlueLoyalizeMisoTunerfish, …  Television and commercials are displaying #hashtags so that viewers can tweet about what they are viewing.  Programs are encouraging viewers to go online during shows to participate in contests or for more information.  Last year, reality television show Top Chef on Bravo TV introduced Last Chance Kitchen, a competition for kicked off participants to re-enter the competition that viewers could only watch online.

Shopping, couponing, tweeting, information seeking, networking, direct communicating are all simultaneous with television viewership using a mobile device.  This trend presents new opportunities to marketers.  Data is essential for a second screen strategic marketing plan.   Statistics show that not all second screen users are the same.  Based on the type of television show, viewership demographics, time of day and other key factors marketers can tailor where and when to place an advertisement, develop/use an app, tweet a message, create a Facebook page, or gamify an online contest.  One thing is very clear that moving forward marketers need to integrate the second screen in their marketing plans.


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