Study: Cross-screen Viewing Changes Game Plan for Marketers

By Sam Gopal | 22 Jul 2013

Australians’ propensity to connect with brands via multiple devices is creating fresh opportunities for marketers, as a study by Mi9 uncovers the drivers behind cross-screen viewing behaviour.

A global Microsoft research report published by Mi9 has revealed cross-screen viewing across TV, mobile, laptop and other devices is now the default viewing mode for today’s ‘Always On’ generation.

Watching TV is no longer a passive pastime – instead we’re more switched on than ever while in front of the box. The study showed 75 percent of Australians now reach for a mobile device or ‘second screen’ at the same time as watching TV, with 46 percent use both screens in tandem to access related content.

While this in itself might not be a new trend, Mi9’s ‘Connected Experiences’ study has delved deeper to provide insight into the behaviour driving this activity. According to their research, 87 percent of those surveyed enjoy being able to check out their favourite products or brands using multiple devices in conjunction, while almost 74 percent said they find advertising helpful to identify new products of interest.

“It’s no secret we’ve become a nation of tech junkies, reliant on laptops, mobile phones, tablets and gaming consoles for inspiration, information and communication,” says Gabbi Stubbs, Mi9’s Head of Research & Insights. “The key difference now is by getting a deeper understanding of the different journeys consumers take as they engage with content across multiple screens, there’s a real opportunity for marketers to provide more meaningful messages and craft unique experiences tailored to the devices in-hand.

“Advertisers need to start asking questions of publishers on how content will be rolled out across different channels and devices, and what this cross-screening trend means for their brand. From a marketing perspective, the conversation on multi-device use may eventually become redundant. What we’ve heard marketers say is the greatest value to a brand, is understanding how audiences shift between devices and channels based on context, environment or convenience and how they can tailor experiences to the individual user – not just that consumers are multi-tasking. We believe this research puts us ahead of conventional thinking; delivering insight into the drivers behind that multi-screen consumer behaviour previously not understood.”

The Connected Experiences study uncovered four common ‘pathways’ that Australians take as they engage in activities across multiple devices:

1. Content Grazing – the most common type of cross-screening behaviour – 68 percent of Australian consumers use two screens simultaneously to access unrelated content such as checking Facebook, email or news while watching TV. Content Grazing is driven by a need for control and enjoyment, and activities are usually multi-tasking or distraction based. The challenge for marketers trying to engage this audience lies in inserting themselves into this moment of distraction – brands need to provide a quick snippet of content that satisfies this need to encourage deeper engagement

2. Investigative Spider-Webbing – 57 percent of cross-screeners fall into this pathway where users crave enjoyment and turn to another device to view related content that complements their primary screen, i.e. using a TV companion app to view exclusive show content and access other features. They are entertainment fans, enjoy online shopping and connecting with others on social networks. Marketers looking to capture this category should distribute content thoughtfully across two screens to encourage deeper and longer engagement with information.

3. Quantum – the third most common pathway, with 46 percent of consumers. Activities are focused on efficiency – they are most likely to conduct work or admin based tasks on two screens, i.e. watching an ad for a movie on a mobile phone during the day, but booking tickets in the evening when a laptop or tablet makes the task quicker and easier on a larger screen. Quantum screeners also engage in social activities and half seek out information on multiple screens to keep themselves entertained. To engage with this group, brands should seek out partners who can help seed ideas on one screen to encourage further discovery on another.

4. Social Spider-Webbing – the least common multi-screening pathway covering 39 percent of consumers. They are extroverted and crave recognition and security. Activity is focused on sharing and connecting on social networks – television usually acts as a catalyst to seek out new information, driving them to a second screen to access new content, whether it’s to relax and entertain or shop. While brands still face challenges integrating with socially-generated content, the opportunity to target this audience to interact deeply and emotionally is compelling.

“To capture people’s attention as they switch concentration from screen to screen, marketers need to adapt their messaging so it works in sync with both the consumer’s immediate job in hand and is relevant to the device being used,” Stubbs reinforces. “While many publishers are now concentrating on multi-device use, there needs to be more focus on the user experience. It’s about having the right marketing mix for the brand and understanding how platforms and devices, fuelled by compelling content, can complement and supplement each other, and do so seamlessly. That’s where the marketing dollars need to be spent.”

Mi9’s ‘Cross-Screener’ infographic

Mi9’s ‘Cross-Screener’ infographic highlights key trends of the report


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