How many screens are you using to reach your consumers? Are you giving your audience the content they want on the device they want? Do you have a comprehensive strategy to connect your marketing efforts across multiple screens?
In an effort to better understand consumer behavior in relation to multi-screen marketing, two Microsoft executives have published a book offering insight on how consumers are interacting with brands across multiple screens.
Natasha Hritzuk, Microsoft’s senior director of global consumer insights, and Kelly Jones, Microsoft’s head of thought leadership, are the co-authors of Multi-screen Marketing: The Seven Things You Need to Know to Reach Your Customers across TVs, Computers, Tablets and Mobile Phones.
“We have a lot of passion on the subject – both from my marketing and Natasha’s consumer research perspective,” said Jones, “We realized while we didn’t have all the answers, we did have a fair amount of information that was in demand.”
Hritzuk and Jones encourage marketers to embrace a more holistic multi-screen marketing approach. The authors claim, in order to define the right multi-screen strategy, marketers must first understand the relationship consumers have with each screen and which content to leverage within their campaigns.
The co-authors use psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s universal archetypes to explain the emotional relationships people have with their devices. From the authors:
Television is the everyman, the familiar, easy relationship in our lives. Computers are sages, a fountain of knowledge where we turn for wisdom and information. Tablets are explorers, where we go on immersive content journeys and discover new things. And finally, mobile phones are lovers, our most personal and intimate screens where content must be highly personal and relevant.
In an interview conducted over email, Hritzuk and Jones shared the most surprising thing they learned from their research, and told us what brands fail to understand when it comes to marketing across multiple screens.
5 Questions with Microsoft’s Natasha Hritzuk and Kelly Jones:
Amy Gesenhues: Define what you mean when you say marketers need to take a more holistic multiscreen marketing approach.
Natasha Hritzuk & Kelly Jones: Right now, media buying and marketing is very siloed. The focus is often on having a “mobile” strategy or a “social” campaign as line items without a more holistic consideration of the larger business strategy. Marketers must stop putting platforms and devices at the center of their strategies and instead, put consumers at the center.
Multi-Screen Marketing outlines a framework for understanding consumer needs first, then connecting these needs to a brand’s business strategy. Which screens are incorporated becomes a tertiary focus that flows naturally from the intersection of consumer needs and a brand’s marketing objectives.
For example, if the consumer need is investigation and this aligns with a marketer’s objective of driving deeper brand engagement, then the strategy might be to start with television to pique curiosity and push consumers to the tablet, where deeper exploration occurs.
Amy Gesenhues: Where do you think most marketers fall short when it comes to multi-screen marketing?
Natasha Hritzuk & Kelly Jones: Marketers often get caught up in shiny, new tech features or platforms, which can either overwhelm us or drive us down blind alleys. The more we focus on people before platforms, the closer we get to building great digital advertising.
We need to take a step back and think about the people who engage with our brands and buy our products. What do they need as it relates to our product? And what’s the best place to engage them based on these needs? The answers to these questions should drive our strategies, not the features or capabilities of the hottest new media platform.
We often find that marketers assume consumers are less sophisticated than they really are. In fact, consumers are demanding seamless multi-screen experiences. They want to be able to transition naturally between their digital and physical spaces through experiences that are intuitive and meet their needs in the moment.
Consumers are quick to understand if an ad or experience provides some utility. They will reject things and move on quickly if it’s not serving their needs.
Amy Gesenhues: What was the biggest surprise you found regarding multi-screen consumer behavior during your research for the book?
Natasha Hritzuk & Kelly Jones: One of the most prevalent multi-screen pathways is something we call “content grazing.” This is when consumers are using one screen and then pick up another to do something completely unrelated to the first.
If you ask consumers why they content graze, they’ll tell you they’re multi-tasking. But in our research, we found that consumers actually turn to second screens for a brief moment of distraction or entertainment.
Marketers who only pay attention to the behavior – switching between screens – could easily misstep by providing productivity-focused content to these multi-taskers, which is a big misfire. By digging beneath the behavior to understand the consumer need underlying it, we learn that consumers are actually looking for quick bites of content that offer a break from monotony or a brief moment of fun.
Natasha Hritzuk & Kelly Jones: We uncovered a trend we call “value me,” which is the consumers’ awareness that their data is worth something. And as a result, they want something tangible in return—whether it’s a good deal or a deeper, more personal relationship with a brand.
Think about Uber as an example. I share my credit card and location information with them, and in return, I get a quick and easy transportation service right from my mobile phone. We believe that being transparent with consumers about how brands use their data coupled with driving real value back to them in exchange, will enable highly personal experiences for consumers across every screen.
We need to stop treating data collection like a subversive activity that consumers fear. Instead, we should give consumers the opportunity to control what data they share and give them better personalized services, loyalty programs, deals and offers in exchange.
For marketers, that means improving data management so we can understand our consumers better and deploy that data to deliver truly personal and useful experiences.
Amy Gesenhues: For marketers who are still in the “beginner” phase of multi-screen marketing, or haven’t started yet, what first steps should they take?
Natasha Hritzuk & Kelly Jones: Get to know your consumer first.
Chapter two of our book includes a case study about a small mail-order tea company Yezi Tea that doesn’t have the resources of a Fortune 500. By understanding the needs of their consumers, Yezi Tea has been able to get a strong return on their multi-screen investment.
Even simple surveys or feedback collection can be a great first step that ignites ideas and more effective consumer-centric strategies.
Another case study in the book outlines how Volkswagen China launched a multi-screen campaign focused on socially savvy and young Chinese car buyers.
Rather than taking the device-centric approach with line items for every platform, they created a community of like-minded consumers who collaborated with engineers to build the next generation Volkswagen for China. The experiences and content were the focal point of the campaign, with the screens flowing naturally from their consumer-centric strategy.
The marketers that are leading the pack are the ones focusing on consumer needs first.