We’re living in a multiscreen world. Like arboreal monkeys in the rain forest, swinging from tree to tree, consumers now move between various screens throughout the day.
They start on smartphones, advance to the PC and perhaps finish tasks on tablets. They watch TV and search on what they’re seeing. They go back to their smartphones the next day and the process continues.
It’s a world that’s increasingly complex for marketers to follow. And the PC promise of clear attribution almost totally breaks down in this new multiscreen environment.
Google and IPSOS are the latest to try and get a handle on the new, more elusive mobile consumer. In a piece of research released earlier this week, Google and IPSOS reported that 90 percent of consumers now move “sequentially” between different screens the same day. The study was conducted in the second quarter this year with just over 1,600 US adults.
Study participants were asked to record their screen-usage behavior in diaries and then were given a survey as well. In all nearly 8,000 hours of media/screen activity were documented.
In addition to “sequential” screen usage (e.g., smartphone–>PC–>tablet) the study documented “simultaneous” screen usage (TV + smartphone, PC + smartphone, TV + laptop). In this latter media scenario smartphones were the most common “second screen.”
While TV still commands the most time spent of any media channel, consumers are no longer paying full attention (if they ever were). According to the study, “77 percent of TV viewers use another device at the same time in a typical day.” Paradoxically, however, TV programs and advertising were found to be “a major catalyst for search.” A majority of that search behavior took place on smartphones.
At a minimum, all TV advertisers need mobile optimized websites that are consistent with TV promotions. Furthermore, TV advertisers now should also be buying mobile search ads that mirror their campaigns.
Google reported that consumers had preferred screens for certain kinds of activities (e.g., tablets “for shopping and travel planning”); however they also tended to consult “the screen that’s closest.” Most often that turns out to be the smartphone.
At-home usage is more common than out of home usage, even for smartphones. However smartphones are used almost equally outside the home and during in-store shopping, making it the most versatile of the screens. Beyond this Google observed, “smartphones are the backbone of [ ] daily media use. They are the devices used most throughout the day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens.”
Here are the big-picture takeaways from my point of view:
- It’s more important than ever to have a coordinated presence and synchronized campaigns across multiple screens
- Expect that smartphones and mobile search will figure prominently in consumer research at some point in the purchase process; every product, every promotion will be touched by mobile
Earlier this week the MMA put out a report that argued (based on ROI considerations) that advertisers should devote 7 percent of their advertising budgets to mobile. That modest recommendation fails to fully reflect the central importance of mobile now: brands and marketers must ensure that their campaigns and creative assets are fully optimized for mobile consumers.
These are only some of the findings; there’s a good deal more in the study. You can download the full report here (PDF).