Can second screen make a difference?

Can second screen make it easier for users to act on issues that inspire them? (Illustration by Catherine Kasas)

In a slightly longer post than usual, we explore how second screen experiences might help people to act on issues and causes that inspire them (featuring special guest Lee Duddell of Newcastle online usability testing company WhatUsersDo)

At some point today, your TV will show you something that will make you cry, make you think, or make you angry.

Can second screen help you to do something about it?

The promise of second screen is that, if you’re interested in a programme, you can learn more and discuss issues in an environment that’s umbilically linked to the show. But once you’ve built that interest up, is it acceptable to just leave users to hack through the forest of Google links to find a way to speak out or get involved?

How Cheryl Cole got our attention

Cheryl Cole’s new video is appearing on a big screen in Meadowhall mall in Sheffield from this week. But people won’t just be watching. They’ll also be getting involved using Screach technology.

A lot of people love Cheryl. But it’s a tough call to get a large group of people to stop and watch an entire video when they’re locked into a shopping spree. Seriously, have you seen the rock-bottom prices in that store over there?

However, that all changes when you give people the opportunity to interact with the video, especially if that involves the chance to catch the Geordie popstar herself on tour.

Polling at super-speed

Last week’s episode of Dispatches got us thinking about polling…

The first names on the credits had barely started sliding to the top of the screen when the voiceover kicked in.

Seconds after Dispatches presenter Jon Snow’s last piece to camera, viewers were told that 77% of the programme’s app users didn’t trust their bank. It was a question that had only been asked for the first time a half hour earlier, and that figure was changing in real-time as new responses came in.

That’s the beauty of second screen polling. Using the second screen Dispatches app, users can find out more about the subject they’re watching, and respond to polls. Those results can be viewed in real time.

There are a truckload of ways you could use this sort of feature. Screach has already partnered with Newcastle United to offer man-of-the-match voting during a game, and TV presenters could potentially find out within seconds what the public thinks of the last thing their guest said.

Ahead of the latest Dispatches show, entitled Do You Trust Your Bank?, presenter Jon Snow took to Twitter to kick off the buzz under the hashtag #snowbank. To get more information on what people thought, the programme makers also did a YouGov poll. However, it also road-tested the features of its Dispatches app, which has been developed by Screach as part of a contract with film and TV company Standing Stone. This gave it the chance to ask viewers to pass on their opinions instantly while the show was airing.

So does this represent an evolution in opinion-gathering, or simply a different approach? Of course, there are benefits to both methods, so we decided to put together this infographic to weigh up the pros and cons…