Bravo recently released the results of Deconstructing the Multi-Screener, a multi-phase thought leadership study conducted in partnership with Latitude. The growing adoption of mobile devices is increasing people’s tendencies to multi-task across life situations—which has included using second (and sometimes even third) screens while watching TV. To shed light on this phenomenon and its implications for advertisers, the study provided an in-depth investigation of multi-screen usage, including motivations, current behaviors, impacts on engagement, and unmet needs.

“We wanted to get at the ‘why’ behind these new cross-platform behaviors,” explains Neela Sakaria, EVP of Latitude. “To do that, we used a combination of innovative ethnographic and needs-based quantitative techniques. As a result, we painted a holistic picture of the multi-screener, and developed new terminology to help Bravo and its partners understand the opportunities to deepen engagement with this new audience. We see many possibilities for advertisers and content providers to excite multi-screeners—who aren’t a niche group; they’re the new mainstream.”

The qualitative/quantitative hybrid study design included two phases:

  1. Multi-Screen Immersion Labs: 112 participants in Boston and Los Angeles each viewed 45 minutes of the most recent episode of a Bravo program in a natural living room setting, with access to one or more additional screens that they would typically have on hand. Latitude then reviewed and coded the collected footage—totaling 4,500 minutes in all—across 30+ behaviors and attributes. The purpose of this phase was to provide a robust, behavioral portrait of typical viewer behavior and engagement in general, and with regard to second screens in particular. (To read more about the study design details for this phase, see Bravo’s press release.)


    Screenshot from Multi-Screen Immersion Labs

    “We worked to decode the multi-screener to understand who these people are, what makes them tick and their characteristics when watching TV—so instead of purely measuring eyeballs, we also needed to capture new media metrics like attention shifts and device checks and pullbacks,” said Dave Kaplan, VP of research at Bravo Media. “We executed all of our research through the lens of today’s marketers, with a focus on how they can optimize messaging in an environment where the majority of TV viewers are now making use of more than one platform at the same time.”

  2. Large-scale quantitative survey: More than 1,000 multi-screening viewers between the ages of 18-54 completed an online survey about attitudes, motivations and behaviors related to TV viewing and usage of other devices. The survey was specially designed to provide a richer, more focused investigation of multi-screening by understanding these behaviors in the context of specific programming genres viewed (e.g., scripted vs. reality) and device types used. It complemented the qualitative Multi-Screen Immersion Labs and quantified key trends uncovered during that phase.

Latitude also worked with Bravo to create an Insight Reel™: a short, engaging video featuring participant commentary and high-level quantitative findings.


Deconstructing the Multi-Screener: a Bravo Study with Latitude.

Key findings include:

  • More screens bust TV ad-skipping: Contrary to the notion that juggling multiple screens can be too distracting, our research finds that it may be just distracting enough—keeping DVR-enabled viewers from fast-forwarding though commercials. Seventy-three percent of participants in the viewing labs agreed that having other devices with them while watching TV makes them less likely to fast-forward through ads. What’s more, this effect was shown to be amplified for viewers with more devices; those viewers who had both a smartphone and a tablet/laptop (“tri-screeners”) were observed to fast-forward at the start of just 40% of ad breaks, compared to smartphone-only viewers (“dual-screeners”) who skipped ads 51% of the time.
  • Audio cues are critical in a multi-screen world: Viewers were 21-36% more likely to cite auditory over visual attributes of various ad executions as “attention-grabbing,” highlighting the importance of prominent audio cues in prompting a distracted multi-screener to re-engage with or “pull-back” to the TV during commercial breaks.
  • “Productive distractions” are on the rise: The increase in multi-screening during programming indicates that an advertiser has more opportunities than ever before to reach this audience and make an impression. On average, viewing lab participants exhibited 7-13 attention shifts away from the TV while the show was airing, most often turning their focus to ad-friendly content (via web sites and apps) which tended to be show-related.
  • 360-degree advertising counteracts DVR effects: Advertisers with a multi-screen presence can combat diminished effectiveness due to DVR usage and improve recall amongst viewers who are exposed across multiple platforms. Forty-five percent of multi-screeners in the quantitative survey reported that they’re more likely to remember brands if they see ads on more than one screen versus just TV alone. The Multi-Screen Immersion Labs also echoed this finding; ad awareness lift for brands included in the viewing session improved among participants who had cross-screen ad exposure, helping to almost entirely overcome any effectiveness shortfall resulting from DVR-enabled ad avoidance.
  • There’s no “one size fits all” approach for meeting second screen needs: Viewers’ have varied needs when it comes to seeking out second screen content—needs which are highly dependent on situational factors and on the genre of the program being watched. Quantitative research reveals that, for some genres, primary and second screen needs tend to match up; for example, sitcom viewers tend to seek laughter and relaxation not just from the primary TV screen but from their second screen as well, and reality food competition viewers desire learning-oriented content across screens. On the other hand, drama viewers desire different things from different screens; they tend to seek thought-provoking material from the TV program itself, but rely on their second screen to offer something more lighthearted in nature.