Mobile Is Changing the Way We Watch TV

A recent Nielsen study reveals that 70 percent of tablet owners and 68 percent of smartphone owners use their devices while watching television. This demonstrates a new trend that we are seeing in television, known as ‘stacking’, which may redefine the way that we reach out to consumers on both mediums.

Stacking, according media theorist Don Tapscot, occurs when one screen plays something for the whole household, while another sits in the lap, surfing at the individual’s whim. An example of stacking could be watching a live event on TV, while at the same time interacting with other individuals watching the same event via a social network like Facebook or Twitter. And while stacking doesn’t technically require a mobile device (it can be done on a PC, laptop, etc), mobile devices have become the primary class of device for the individual screen.

Stacking has become so popular in fact, that Nintendo incorporated it into their next generation of gaming systems, the WiiU. The WiiU incorporates a 6.2” touch screen on the remote, the sole purpose of which is to provide a secondary, individualized content to the user. In a statement at E3 2011, when the remote was first unveiled, Nintendo said, “Adding a second screen to the living room creates a multitude of new video game experiences while offering families a variety of options to customize their entertainment.”

Stacking may also offer brands a solution to a relatively new problem in traditional marketing. In this day and age of DVRs, television commercials are in danger of losing their effectiveness. Shifting the advertising from the household screen to the individual screen offers a channel to the consumer that is not only not skipped over, but also more personalized. If used properly, stacking may be the next revolution in marketing.

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