As a busy, working mom I have no choice but to multi-task every day, and multiple devices such as my PC, Surface Pro and mobile phone help me get the tasks I need done so I can spend more time with my 3-year old daughter.
Like me, most people are multi-tasking throughout their day and we wanted to dive deeper into the consumer motivations behind why they use multiple screens. In our new study, called Cross-Screen Engagement, we found that while the era of ‘Content is King’ isn’t over per se, there is a new ‘Crown Prince’ coming on the scene: consumer experience. While marketers once generated content to fit manufactured and static advertising placements, consumers now control their own flow of content—from day to night, and from screens large and small. So it’s even more imperative that marketers understand consumer motivations in order to meet them in their moment.
We partnered with Flamingo Research and Ipsos OTX to recruit consumers across five markets— including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK and the US— to learn more about why consumers are using multiple devices and to understand the motivations that drive simultaneous or sequential usage across screens, and the opportunities for marketers.
Our study identifies that consumers typically follow four multi-screening pathways:
- Content Grazing: This is the most common pathway 68 percent of consumers Content Grazing. This occurs when consumers use two or more screens simultaneously to access unrelated content; for example, watching a show on TV while at the same time checking email on your PC and texting a friend on your mobile phone.
- Investigative Spider-Webbing: This is the second most common multi-screening pathway with 57 percent of consumers in this category. It’s a simultaneous path where consumers embark on a content driven investigation across devices at the same time, either to gather more information or for pure exploration. For example this could consist of watching a movie on the TV and looking up what other movies the actors have been in on a tablet or PC.
- Quantum Journey: Forty-six percent of consumers land in the Quantum pathway. Here, productivity and efficiency are paramount as consumers are trying to accomplish a task. Each screen separately and additively takes them closer to achieving their goal. For example, you snap a picture of a pair of shoes on your mobile that you see for sale while shopping, and then look up reviews about the shoes on your PC at home before purchasing.
- Social Spider-Webbing: This is the least common multi-screening pathway with 39 percent of consumers engaging here. Consumers in this instance are extroverted and focused on sharing content and connecting with others across devices. For example, you beat your friend’s high score for a game on your Xbox, and then use Skype or other social channels to brag about your win to friends.
Here are just some of the tips we suggest to marketers based on the research findings:
- Keep Content Seamless: Windows 8 enables a consistent and cohesive experience across desktops and laptops, tablets, mobile phones and the Xbox gaming console. Marketers should think about utilizing SkyDrive for easy cloud storage and implementing content into apps such as Xbox SmartGlass – both provide seamless movement from one screen to the next.
- Be ‘Always On’: In the morning, consumers tend to be more task focused and in the evening hours, all four multi-screening pathways kick into high gear. Marketers should tailor their messaging throughout the day. For example, connect them with commercial content that can be consumed in small bites via Bing and casual gaming apps, and then help them investigate or communicate deeper in the evening through Windows 8 Ads in Apps, MSN Video and interactive rich media ad units such as the new IAB standard Filmstrip unit.
- Think Personal and Portable: The mobile phone is a highly personal device, but is also the bridge between work, on-the-go and home. Marketers should leverage the intimate feel consumers have with the mobile to drive relevant messaging, and apps are a natural fit here.
- Keep it Contextual: MSN via the portal or Windows 8 apps disseminates contextually rich content around the topics consumers care about most: Lifestyle, Food, Finance, Autos, Entertainment, Sports and more.
- Spark Conversation: Connect through rich, engaging ad experiences in environments where consumers make more personal social connections. Marketers should consider using Skype or gaming via Xbox to tell their brand story at scale and on the platform that consumers prefer: across PCs, TVs and mobile devices.
We’re continuing to build upon and dive deeper into the implications of these four pathways, as well as how they map back to our ongoing Consumer Decision Journey research. You can find more information within our full research report: Microsoft Advertising’s Cross-Screen Engagement.
As always, be sure to get in touch with questions or feedback. We love hearing from you!
Natasha Hritzuk, Senior global director of Research & Insights, Microsoft Advertising.