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Italy’s Smartphone ‘Second Screeners’ Visit Social Networks While Watching TV

More than half of social TV viewers click on ads there

What do smartphone users do with their phones while watching TV? In Italy, one in every two is visiting social networks, according to a study by comScore MobiLens that examined how TV viewers’ mobile social network habits could help advertisers amplify the effect of their ads on television.

Almost half (46.3%) of smartphone users who used their phone for any activity related to a TV program said they visited social networks. This was a higher proportion than for any other program-related action, though more than one-third said they used messaging services, and 26.3% accessed information about the program.

Of the smartphone users who were prompted by a TV program to visit social networks, nearly 70% said they read posts from organizations, brands or events while on social media, and 71.5% followed a posted link to a website. In addition, more than half (54.0%) said they clicked on an ad—an extremely high proportion, compared with typical clickthrough rates (CTRs) of less than 1% for internet display ads. In March 2013, for example, the average CTR for Facebook ads in Italy was 0.44%, according to Salesforce Social.com, which advises brands on creating and monitoring campaigns on social platforms.

Historically, Italy hasn’t matched the levels of smartphone penetration seen in other leading markets in Western Europe. eMarketer estimates that 41.8% of the population will have a smartphone in 2014—well below the regional average of 47.0%—and a similar gap will persist through 2017.

Nonetheless, the number of people in Italy owning at least one smartphone will reach an estimated 25.8 million this year. And if comScore’s calculations are broadly correct, more than 12 million of those mobile device users will likely visit social networks while watching TV, and around 6 million will click on an ad there. That audience of multiscreeners is impressive by any standards.

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