The digital beanstalk: Multi screens mean multi ideas

3 September 2014

Ed Bainbridge

Ed Bainbridge

CEO and Founder

If I told you five years ago that one day I’d be sat together with my family watching TV whilst we were all engaging multiple ‘other’ devices at the same time, you’d think I was mad. However, this is exactly what is happening now. We watch TV ‘together’ whilst simultaneously chatting to our friends on line, shopping via the internet, uploading photos to Facebook, and so on.

Second and multi-screening have become the norm. They are great for multi-tasking, even for men (let’s face it, there never seem to be enough hours in the day) and can be great for helping us to become more informed, connected and social! So how far will this go in the future and where are we now?

The world of television

Image and audio-recognition technologies are now incredibly precise in terms of, for example, synching your screen to a TV show you’re watching. This has sparked a number of play-along patterns – you can now, for example, play-along to the Antiques Roadshow or Gory Games on a UK TV channel.

And as creative ideas progress with technology, game shows will enable viewers to participate and win from the comfort of their front rooms. I guess the question is whether this will make you feel more included? Or is it just a bit weird playing along with a bunch of strangers? I wonder whether age plays a part in this as well. I suspect it does. Being in a crowd almost used to make you feel anonymous (and many people like this!), whereas as today every individual in the crowd has a personal identity that can quickly rise to the surface.

I guess the question I am asking is what aspects of being digitally connected work well, and what will fall by the wayside, because while it is possible, it is not necessarily desirable. And while there is a huge focus on millennials and post-millennials with all forms of digital content, we should remember that we still live in a multi-generational society, as we always have done. So what works for who? And what possibilities are out there?

Second screen fast forward >>>

This should be fun. Take a look at your business and consider what your customer range is.  Take a look at what you’re trying to sell, and how you connect to your customers – at retail, with print, or via digital access, for example? Then if you think about your younger or future customer, is your engagement offering or digital route to market as efficient and intuitive as it could be? This is going to be where using all the screens around you in the right way will vastly improve how people connect with your business.

Image-recognition is creating entirely new patterns of engagement. Second screens have now become first screens for some, and second-screening is not confined to just watching TV. For example, if you happen to be browsing through a magazine and come across a car ad that interests you, you can prompt your favourite gadget to allow you to go for a virtual tour of the car interior. So you can get the sense of how it matches up to your comfort, style and tech expectations. And if you like it, the digital door will open to see if you want to book a test drive there and then.

Or while you’re out shopping, you can check out the packaging of something you have your eyes on, pull up additional information on it and do a cost comparison to ensure you are getting the best deal. Or you can extend out to a broader, digital range of product offers that can’t be stocked in the physical store. And what if it’s out of stock? That’s not a problem, as you can use your digital recognition power to ping across to buy it online anyway and have it delivered directly to your home.

Market coverage – where are we?

  • Demand for tablet units is growing faster than PCs ever did, up 52% from last year alone
  • On a global level, there are now 1.6 billion smartphones out in the marketplace
  • And yet this smartphone figure represents only 30% against the 5.2 billion mobile phones, so there is still a lot of upside in this market.

You can find out more in Mary Meeker’s report Internet Trends 2014 – Code Conference.

So there are some of the stats, but it’s how we approach multi-screen usage that is driving product and service delivery in this digital age. And it would seem that we’re at the start of the cycle of following digital behaviours when you look at untapped or new opportunities - wearable technologies, integrated GPS usage, etc.

And this is not just about the multimedia industries. The way we do things has a big effect on expectations as to what we can do on our screens at home and on the move. This is going to hit your business in a big way, if it hasn’t done already.

Extending this across different industries

Let’s take the Utilities sector as an example. Imagine if your central heating coming on could be automatically triggered by the GPS tech on your phone (you already can, by the way)? And what about the retail sector? Some retailers already invite consumers to move from a magazine ad to a digital changing room where people can try out different clothing combinations to see what they like before buying?

Simply put, there has been an explosion in consumers’ multi-screening. 86% of people who can, have multi-screened, so organisations are going to have to consider how to utilise this creatively and strategically. My background pushed me quite early to a place where you had to join the dots digitally. Far from being scary, it’s a creative playground, driven by whatever you see around you.

Get out your binoculars

And so get watching and creating– you don’t need a crystal ball. Look AT the future, not INTO the future.

Where will TV be in the future – on the box or online? How will advertising change – can I play the ads? How do I get people to interact with, and purchase my products? What do consumers need and expect? As usual, what we do know is that it will continue to change and it will continue to expand across all the devices and screens that are available, at home and on the move. So have fun and get connecting.


Ed is an experienced media industry exectutive who has held global positions in multiple digital and interactive environments since 1995 – product development, publishing, licensing and studio management. Ed spent 9 years at The Walt Disney Company in a range of roles covering interactive games and connected digital experiences. His most recent role was as VP, Digital Experiences, EMEA for Disney Interactive, delivering connected and targeted experiences for audiences across all digital content types, platforms and devices (web and browser, virtual worlds, social, mobile and digital console). Prior to this position, Ed was VP, European Production for the global Console Games Group at Disney and has held publishing and development positions at Eidos Interactive, Activision and SEGA.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bluefin Solutions Ltd.



About the author

Ed Bainbridge

CEO and Founder

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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