I contributed a couple of comments to a recent ClickZ post about Target’s second screen stunt with TBS’s Cougar Town.
To expand a bit more, while I think it’s a really good thing for brands to try and find ways to break through TV audiences’ increasing distraction, I continue to wonder what it’ll take for third-party second screen apps to actually scale…to matter to mass audiences.
Outside of Twitter, second screen "social TV" apps have failed to attract mass repeat users. Remember Philo, Miso, GetGlue, and IntoNow? They’re gone now. And similar apps like Viggle and Zeebox aren’t exactly making waves lately.
Research tells us that most of our second screen multitasking has nothing to do with the TV shows we're watching. But when it does, we're primarily using Twitter (and other mainstream social media) to connect and express with others in real-time.
This is why we’ll continue to see specialized second screen apps pivot, fold, or sell-out as the industry has matures around Twitter (and potentially Facebook) as the de facto app that mainstream audiences use while watching television.
The exceptions to this are second screen apps that are purposefully built for inherently interactive TV shows (i.e. NBC’s Million Second Quiz). I still think there’s a strong use case for these genres of television. TBS’s Cougar Town isn't quite the Home Shopping Network — Most people who tune-in to that show aren't exactly in the mindset to buy a brand's product placements on the spot. They're simply trying to unwind by (hopefully) being entertained by a semi-mindless sitcom.