From The Big Screen To The Little Screen

As a digital analyst, it’s my job to study how technology disrupts business markets and models. As an aspiring social scientist, I also study technology’s impact on culture and behavior. These two worlds are colliding with increasing velocity as each day passes. One of the trends I’ve been following over the last several years is the relationship between TV, smartphones, tablets and PCs. There’s no longer a doubt that we are becoming a society of multi-screeners.

There’s no longer a doubt that we are becoming a society of multi-screeners. The reality is that people will watch TV while multitasking on other devices. They do so now without benefit of your vision or direction. Their second and third screen experience is for the most part theirs to define and yours to study. At some point, however, the multi-screen and viewer experience will benefit from your architecture and in doing so, your business will benefit as well.

I’d like to take the next several hundred words to explore an important aspect of multi-screening. Here, I’m specifically speaking to any business that creates programming, advertises on TV, places products in shows, or is active in any industry that popular shows touch upon.

Google published an in-depth report on the new multi-screening world that I’ve spent quite a bit of time reviewing. In just a few short but important slides (29 – 32), Google focuses on the changing role of television in a multi-screen environment. Specifically, Google focuses on how people, well, Google while watching TV.



There was a time, a long time at that, when TV was the epicenter of the home and the attention of those within it. The Internet, however, now rivals TV, but the truth is the two will co-exist and over time, play a harmonious role in engaging consumers.

According to Google, 77% of TV viewers use another device while watching TV. As we see here with Lori’s example, people are shopping, emailing, surfing, etc.



Beyond the casual second screen engagement conveyed by Lori, people are taking specific actions based on what they see on TV. As we see with Kelly’s example, the desire to seek more information about people, products, places, events, etc., can prompt a viewer to learn more. And, those searches will take place in the traditional Google search box, as well as Google Images and also YouTube.

Naturally, Google found that TV is in fact a major catalyst for search.



Depending on the second screen, smartphones and PCs can trigger a variety of different actions based on the occasion for search. For example, with smartphone users, 22% of viewers are promoted to search based on what they see on TV. And 17% of those viewers will take action based on a TV commercial.

This leads to a new moment that Google calls “found time,” the combination of device accessibility and spur-of-the-moment usage to get something done in the moment. It is in these “micro-moments” that Google found viewers to search, shop, communicate and keep entertained across multiple screens. The result? Marketers and advertisers are now presented with additional touchpoints to engage consumers throughout the day.



In these moments, viewers will search using the screen that’s the closest to them. More often than not, that device is likely to be a smartphone or tablet. Some will however, go find their PC as it is a more familiar and capable device according to their preference.


Search is just the beginning however. Found time is the key driver for spontaneous search with 80% and 52% taking place on smartphones and PCs, respectively. However, of those spontaneous searches upward of 44% do so to accomplish a goal.

Customer Journey Architecture and Optimization

Marketing around found time and these new micro-moments creates the need for experience and journey architecture. Knowing that a viewer can at any moment Google or YouTube your business, product or service on any one of three screens, what does that path, result, and experience look like today? Chances are it needs to either be designed and or optimized for each screen.

Additionally, the context and intention of the search should be considered to frame a dynamic and personalized journey. What’s most important is to design several journeys around the intention or possible state of the viewer to make it not only more efficient but also rewarding. If upward of 44% of those spontaneous searches are started to accomplish goals, then understand what those goals are and streamline them through a dedicated click path optimized for each screen and intention.

SEO and SEM are no longer good enough to cater to multi-screeners who engage in found time. Experiences and outcomes now count for everything. They require architecture and refinement over time. This requires what I believe to be a new role that looks beyond customer experience to include customer journey design and management.

What is your business doing to help maximize customers’ “found time”?


Brian Solis is the author of the new book, The End of Business as Usual. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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