You’ve heard of the big screen, many watch the small screen, but what is all of this discussion around the second screen? The second screen refers to act of using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone while watching television. We all do it, whether it’s that last email for work, or posting a status message to Facebook. It’s the easiest form of multi-tasking and devices like smartphones and tablets make it even easier to do while watching your favorite program.
In many cases, the second screen experience is a social one: Using Twitter or Facebook to live comment or discuss TV happenings using social media tools. More practically, the second screen in our hands extends the passive experience of TV watching into an interactive one once a viewer is exposed to tv content that interests them and sends them online to learn more.
From the healthcare marketer’s perspective, what does the second screen change?
Forrester recently reported that 80% of tablet owners are using their devices while watching television. The same study showed that 30% of a tablet owners use will be while simultaneously watching television. Viewers seeing and hearing a prompt for more information have only to key in a URL or search key terms to have access to more information, a self-diagnosis tool, or a savings offer.
To be executed correctly, marketers and brand managers need to understand that the opportunity is fleeting. Unlike the traditional desktop searcher, the second screen viewer has an even more narrow attention span. The design and content must be engaging, easily understood and offer something that can compete with the medium that sent them online in the first place. This content must also be optimized for mobile devices that make up a sizable portion of the second screen audience.
This is not a trivial task. This a finicky medium with a fast changing platform. It requires a plunge into the mobile space (which is still very new to pharmaceutical marketers). Why invest so much energy into a screen we refer to as being “second” in the first place? Because it’s an easy pivot point for many patients: The time they have while watching television is a time of privacy, freedom, and precious free time to collect their thoughts.
The ease of searching from the comfort and privacy of your own couch also makes this new consumption habit an important one for patients and caregivers. It’s in these short domestic lulls that critical conversations can take place between husband and wife, mom and dad, caregiver and patient. It’s also an where decisions to consult with a physicians or healthcare professional can be made. There is potential to provide patients with tools to better understand health issues, change a mode of thinking about their own health, and change feelings that have previously represented barriers to proper healthcare.
The First Scenario:
Think of the busy mom who has finally found a few minutes to sit down to watch the current reality show. She sees a commercial for a new medication. She’s had that nagging question in the back of her mind for several weeks and just hasn’t had a chance to make an appointment (nor does she even know where to begin explaining her pain to her physician, who is new to her family practice).
The commercial she is watching has a URL and curious, she types it into her iPhone, already in her hand from a recently entered Facebook message. She is presented with a screen asking her some initial questions and a “conversation starter”. This helps her not only articulate her condition, but presents the right verbiage to begin conversing with her new family doctor. She now understands how to communicate her condition, the sense of urgency to act, and she’s found a resource to learn more. She’s signed up to receive email updates with tips on managing this condition with a more balanced diet.
She’s done all of this without getting up, writing down a URL, or missing her favorite program. This is the scenario that breaks down the barriers of resistance and can help the performance of any commercial campaign.
The Other Scenario:
An MS patient is seeing a commercial for a new treatment and shows other MS patients. The messages are inspiring and are URLs for more information. He uses his iPad to search and finds a link to the product’s homepage and a thumbnail to several videos hosted on the product.com and also on the product’s YouTube page. He’s seeing people who are not only similar to him, but with more severe symptoms. The patient has been moved from a passive TV watching state to a mode that has them actively searching and engaging media in the product’s digital ecosystem.
The scenarios outlined above are not hard to imagine. Neither is a case where a caregiver can diagnose a loved one or a case where coupons are provided to patients who enroll in a newsletter program. There is benefit to both the patient who is now actively educating themselves with credible and accurate information and the brand who is able to communicate with patients in an proactive state of mind about their health.
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops can provide a link to relevant information that can make products appropriate for a patient’s immediate needs. An allergy commercial can speak to pollen and ragweed in a general sense, but the landing page supporting a commercial can pull real-time, location specific data from a viewer’s and provide the specific products that treat what may be affecting the patient specifically.
This technology is not science fiction, it’s much of what allows large consumer websites to deliver appropriate content right now. The same can be done for flu symptoms using Center for Disease Control (CDC) data or looking at local school outbreaks of chickenpox. These hyper-local tactics can help brands become valuable to patients and drive brand a loyalty that helps make brands household names.
As our digital devices multiply and new media demands our attention, there is the chance to provide advertising that is relevant and helpful to patients. The bar is being raised for marketers and the pharmaceutical community should be enthusiastically looking to exceed expectation.