The age of the central, household-centric computer is as dead as the age of the televisions set around which the entire family would gather to watch I Love Lucy. Nowadays our entertainment environment is scattered: across different devices, different screens on the same device, even different classes of devices (like a television and a smartphone). This isn’t anything new, of course – there are games that require different devices to get the full experience and consoles and their little portable brethren often interact in unique ways. But what does this multi-screen, multi-device environment mean for marketers?
A wellspring of data, first and foremost. A recent study funded by Microsoft has investigated the multi-device behaviours of consumers across multiple markets in two different phases. The study went pretty in-depth with its analysis and identified several distinct ways in which consumers interact with multiple devices. Several patterns emerged.
Content grazing is the term they gave to the practice of multiple device use for different purposes. Using a tablet to tweet while watching a movie or using your phone to Shazam the catchy song in the commercial.
Investigative Spider-Webbing is the term they used for using multiple devices for similar goals – looking up cast members while you’re watching a movie or looking up a recipe on your phone while you’re watching it on TV.
Quantum Journey is the rather bizarre term used for a cross-screen collaborative effort to achieve a goal, like setting up the basics of a new song in a simple music editor on your phone and perfecting it later on a computer.
Finally, Social Spider-Webbing is the practice of using one device to achieve a goal or and using another device to broadcast that experience.
These are, of course, not exactly new findings. Anybody working for one of the best seo agency teams out there handling an account has aimed to create a flawless cross-platform experienced and, as long as the ecosystem is the same (iOS devices, Win8 devices or Android devices) they even managed it. The relationship between smartphones and the television has recently been under significant scrutiny as Twitter and Nielsen partnered up to investigate the potential of tweets as an audience measuring tool. And of course, contextual, cross-platform social media content like ‘badges’ and ‘achievements’ have long been part of the Gaming industry’s core marketing strategies. What could truly be revolutionary is content that can be accessed across devices simultaneously, with flawless transition from platform to platform. Thanks to the cloud infrastructure this is already happening although not always in a very intuitive manner. For instance an app might be available on phone and tablet simultaneously but look and feel quite different. Fortunately there are steps taken in ths direction as well, Google being amongst the pioneers.
What this study shows is that there is great potential for cross-screen functionality and with it comes great potential for cross screen marketing. Not only does cross-screen marketing allow to better target your campaigns towards one device or another depending on the time of day when it finds most usage but it can also allow you to exploit the data patterns that arise from analysing behaviour on different devices. Multi-screen use is the way of the future and it should be firmly in marketers’ sights.