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Reach News Junkies on the Second Screen

A tablet device with a user's index finger resting on the touchscreen.

Today’s viewers aren’t just watching TV as a solitary experience. Whether it’s the iPad, an Android tablet, or even the new Kindle Fire, tablet devices are quickly becoming an integral part of television viewing. Or as Nielsen puts it, cross platform is the new norm. 40% of tablet (and smartphone) owners in the U.S. used their devices daily while watching television, which creates a prime opportunity for news stations and news programs to reach a captive audience.

We’ve talked before about a few tips to define your newsroom’s mobile presence, but let’s look a little closer at a few more ways news organizations can help reach news junkies on that second screen.

Short URLs

Most newsrooms are probably familiar with using a branded short URL for social media channels like Twitter or Facebook. Using those same URLs in televised news segments can also be a great way to point the user towards a corresponding article about the segment on your website. The shorter link format is easier to remember and easier to type than a longer, traditional URL.

Bit.ly, a popular URL shortener service, also has powerful analytics which capture views to that link across a given amount of time. Newsrooms can see how short URLs perform across different news cycles, on different days, and even during different times in the same program.

For more information on how to create your own short URL, check out our handy article on setting one up using bit.ly.

Memorable Actions

Traditional long-form URLs are still great to utilize if done in a way that makes them memorable to the user. The key here is to not make the viewer have to “think” about what their next action should be once they’ve visited that link. So maybe instead of just saying “visit us on Facebook”, you can say “visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/newschannel123″. It’s a little extra, but it points the viewer directly to your page instead of leaving it up to them to search for it.

Let’s say you are a news organization that doesn’t use a short URL like we discussed earlier. Another tip to guide the viewer towards the story on your website would be to give them a search term that brings them to the story. So instead of saying “visit us at NewsChannel123.com for more information”, you can say “visit us at NewsChannel123.com and search for ‘midtown live apartment fire’”. This way, you are still giving the viewer your URL, and you are giving them an action to perform that will lead them directly to your story.

Both of these techniques may not seem like much, but they are both very simple and easy methods to try to give a little more information to the viewer.

Targeted Emails

One of the most interesting findings from the Nielsen study I linked earlier was that nearly 60% of tablet and smartphone users were checking email either during a program or during a commercial break. A recent report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that 53% of tablet owners are daily tablet news consumers, and 54% of them use email on a daily basis. The same study also shows that the tablet device is the platform of choice over desktop/laptop and smartphone usage for checking headlines and reading longer articles.

Knowing this information, newsrooms can capture user (or viewer) emails and send them targeted email messages during the time their program airs. You could send a morning email synopsis of the day’s top stories, or an afternoon or evening edition during a broadcast. After you have sent out a few email newsletters, you can then determine the best time to reach your viewing audience based on your open or your click-through rates.


As you can see, tablet devices can add an entirely new dimension of interaction. By using short URLs, creating memorable actions, and sending targeted emails, news organizations can begin to reach viewers on the second screen and bridge the gap between television and tablet.

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