Second Screen Trends in the Events Industry

Second Screen Trends in the Events Industry

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Now that we live in an age where almost every adult is regularly connected to a device, there are a variety of ways to keep them engaged. Using computers, tablets, and mobile devices as a second screen is becoming an ever-increasing opportunity for audience engagement. First aimed at TV viewers, second screen participation included posting comments about a show on social media or using a specified app to vote for your favorite competitor on American Idol or The Voice. The popularity of this innovative form of audience interaction is on the rise, particularly so in the events industry.

The Rise of the Second Screen

For many TV viewers, mixing mobile device usage in with watching a show is an intuitive behavior. Whether due to breaks in the action caused by commercials or a desire to have a more social experience around a show, using a second screen is a popular option. A report from Accenture showed 87 percent of consumers worldwide use a second screen in some form while watching TV. That kind of broad-based, global acceptance of interacting with and gathering input from multiple screens indicates plenty of opportunities to boost audience involvement and participation.

Utilization of a device while engaged with a primary screen – or speaker on stage at an event – taps into a number of common desires in an audience. Consider that 54 percent of second screen users report doing so during business meetings, according to Statista.

Second Screen Trends in the Events Space

Unlike those watching TV, an event audience tends to all have a significant interest in or relationship with the subject at hand and likely is involved with the business or industry in a professional capacity. Of course, there are also important similarities that make second screens effective during live events just as they are during TV broadcasts. Audience interest, a desire to engage more fully with the topic at hand, and the ability to have a richer, more varied experience all come into play.

Nielsen research, although focused on audience interactions with second screens while watching TV, found looking up general information is by far the most common activity – 76 percent for tablet owners, 63 percent for smartphone owners – for which an audience uses its devices. This is an area where a curated experience designed by event organizers can grab hold of second screen users’ attention and allow them to interact in real time.

The Professional Convention Management Association said the second screen more fully captures attention and avoids the issues with presenters asking participants to put away mobile devices and the resulting pushback that may occur. Using a second-screen experience taps into attendee preferences instead of combating them.

As a commonly new way to push engagement, plenty of purpose-built apps now facilitate second screen use at events, with three especially promising ones highlighted by BizBash. Ramblehook, for example, allows a speaker’s agenda to change based on audience feedback, as attendees vote on whether a topic needs less or more time, or if the presenter has already hit the target. Other apps offer tools for sharing content to participants’ mobile devices, multiple forms of live feedback gathering, and facilitated social media posting like including an event hashtag and the presenter’s username.

Some vendors go a step farther, providing not just an app but dedicated device and network for second-screen interaction. For instance, iPad table centerpieces that can display slides, polls, and other information. These have the advantage of offering event organizers more control of the experience without relying on attendees’ downloading apps or relying on the venue’s Internet connection, but add cost and lack the personal involvement of an attendee’s device.

Apps can do a great deal to facilitate targeted discussion and keep the conversation focused on specific topics. They can also conduct specialized polling, offer novel interactive experiences and share other highly targeted tools for engagement.

More direct methods such as social media or text messaging are simpler but offer less control. While attendees don’t have to download an app or otherwise ensure their phone is properly configured before an event starts, it can be difficult to pick out relevant messages in a sea of activity. Additionally, unwanted communications may occur – something neither presenters nor the audience wants to deal with.

The second screen experience is already entrenched in many parts of your audience’s daily lives. Use it to your advantage to gather feedback, gauge the mood of the crowd and facilitate conversations at your next event.




Alford Media