App usage doesn't drop during Super Bowl -- except during halftime

Mobile advertiser Flurry's latest report, on app usage during the Super Bowl, is fascinating for those of us who have been following the "second screen" phenomenon: The tendency of mobile device users to use their devices while also watching television or other media. Flurry notes that during last week's big game, not only was the app audience (according to the apps that the company is actually monitoring) almost as large as the Super Bowl audience as a whole, but as you can see above, app usage steadily grew throughout the game.

With one interesting exception, that is: During the Madonna halftime show. During the show itself, viewers finally looked away from their smartphone devices and tuned into the television. Obviously not all of them did, but that is a big enough dip (along with the drop during the final minutes of the game) to say that yes, there's a big correlation here between what people are seeing on their televisions and how they're using their mobile devices.

The opposite story is also true: Flurry was actually able to rank app usage versus the most and least popular commercials during the game. As you can see from the final charts in their report, on commercials that people generally liked and paid attention to, app usage dropped significantly. That's very intriguing: Most of the second screen work brands have done so far is designed to keep people using ads during commercials, but a study like this would suggest that customers would rather pay attention to good commercials. They postpone their interaction with those "marquee" ads until later on -- or during other ads, including possibly those of competitors.

At any rate, this study definitely shines a new light on this second screen thinking, and we might see some new trends in apps trying to make use of this habit going forward.