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A substantial number of consumers in the UK have a variety of internet-enabled devices at their disposal, and they are increasingly using them while watching TV. According to a March 2013 survey from media law firm Wiggin, 72% of UK internet users owned or had access to a smartphone, another 27% had an iPad, and an equal percentage had used or owned some other tablet.
With so much access, UK consumers are not tuning in to just TV alone. More than six out of 10 web users told Wiggin they used a second screen while watching TV. Younger consumers seemed particularly unlikely to have their eyes on TV only; more than eight in 10 of those ages 15 to 24 reported second-screen viewing.
InMobi similarly found in November 2012 that 68% of UK mobile internet users accessed mobile content while watching TV.
But second-screen viewing doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for TV advertisers. In fact, it can mean just the opposite. Wiggin found that more than one out of three UK web users expressed interest in buying a product on the spot after seeing an ad on TV, something a second screen is likely to enable these consumers to do. Among those between 20 and 34 years old, that percentage rose to 46%.
However, not all second-screen behavior is on the rise. Motorola Mobility found that in 2012, 24% of UK web users used a phone or tablet to participate in social media conversations about the show they were watching. That was down from 2010, when 39% reported doing so.
Still, with limited ad-supported TV programming in the UK, second screens may represent a new opportunity for marketers to reach consumers while they are watching TV. TV ad spending is expected to reach $5.7 billion this year, and rise to only $6 billion by 2017, according to eMarketer.
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