The unassailable global rise of mobile and tablet adoption during the last four years has led to a trend in second-screening, most notably in the United States and United Kingdom.

We already know, from eMarketer, that one in three consumers in the UK are regular tablet users. Also, research from Sparkler (commissioned by Microsoft) tells us a massive 70% of UK families use a second screen while watching television, with the main purpose being to communicate via social media.

The biggest real time response-generating medium remains television. But with the rise of the second screen, engagement and response levels to TV programmes and advertising are higher than ever.

It is worth noting that, in the UK, many users have always interacted with a second medium before the mobile and tablet phenomenon, which has happened only in the last few years. Does anyone remember the red button?

The benefit of mobile and tablet is that these devices are personalised to the users, allowing them to instantly share their reaction — be it joy or anger — to the TV programme they are watching.

Users’ reactions to a show are amplified to their social networks, where their friends, followers, and other fans are invited to become involved in the experience.

This is an exciting new era for advertisers, who now have the potential to innovate TV ads to make them more social and interactive. The benefit of the growing number of users who have the technology at their fingertips is how easy it is for them to engage.

An example: P&G’s “Brand Live” campaign, which ran on the day of the “X Factor” finale in the UK.

P&G worked with its media agency, Starcom, to secure the first ad spot in the commercial break, which prompted users to engage with Herbal Essence’s Twitter and Facebook pages via a second screen.

In addition to the TV spot to generate awareness, P&G worked with ITV’s “Ad Sync” product and the official X Factor app, which pulled in the same ads shown on screen.

The app was pushed by X Factor host Dermot O’Leary in the live shows, which meant the audience grew along with the brand engagement and brand recall. Rimmel also ran this incentive targeting London as the exclusive media partner.

As with any media we have to question the measurability of success:

  • Thinkbox research suggests multi-screening users are more likely to stay for an ad break than TV-only viewers.

  • Actions increased from 35% to 49%, including word of mouth.

  • Brand consideration (up from 21% to 40%) and subsequent purchase intent (up from 68% to 84%) were strengthened as a result of dual screen exposure.

2014: the year ahead: There is massive advertiser potential for the much-anticipated 2014 World Cup. This will be the first World Cup in which second-screening and real-time social engagement will be commonplace in living rooms around the world.

Media owners and publishers will be creating content that not only complements TV coverage, but also enhances it for their users and for advertisers. Content will work across all devices and give each user an individual experience as he engages with ads.

Broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4 are leading the market with new real-time social products to drive a higher level of user engagement to maintain ad spends by changing to keep up with audience habits.

Advertisers should embrace the rise of the “second screen” this year as, unlike some media, the second screen is not cannibalising. Instead, it complements TV coverage and harnesses a social audience in real time.