Why screen size matters

As screens become part of our personal space, advertisers must avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach and tailor their creative work to a multiscreen environment. Catherine Turner reports

multiscreenIt’s becoming known as “martini media” – the ability to watch content any time, any place, anywhere. With the advent of audio-visual platforms including next-generation mobile phones and the latest Apple iPods, there really has never been such a wealth of choice for the consumer.

Indeed, marketers wanting to use sound and vision to communicate with their target audiences have never had it so good, especially when you take into account the rise of the internet and broadband take-up in the UK, the growing number of digital screens in the outdoor sector, not forgetting the perennial favourites TV and cinema.

Compact mobile

Yet this is no one-size-fits-all solution. To really use the medium marketers must take into account how different screens affect engagement. When the same content is played on different sized screens, ranging from cinema to the most compact mobile, it is not surprising that the reaction of the audience is quite different.

A study commissioned by TV marketing body Thinkbox shows that how you watch television affects your experience. Results from the Engagement Study suggest the internet, for example, is increasingly able to show media-rich advertising and content, although the gap in quality in terms of screen size, resolution and sound quality is being maintained as TV goes high definition.

However, it is the context in which that advertising is seen that is exclusive to TV. Viewers watch TV in a highly relaxed, responsive, engaged state, often together, and with a clear understanding and acceptance of the role of ad breaks within the content. Online, by contrast, is often lean forward, functionally driven and fast moving.

The same, if not more, could be said of cinema where movie-goers pay for a rich, surround-sound, large screen experience and one in which they accept pre-film advertising as part of that experience. Some advertisers – think vodka brand Smirnoff and a host of car marques – use cinema ads to highlight the creative wizardry of their TV spots, while France Telecom-owned Orange has used its “Gold spot” series to remind patrons to turn off their mobile phones – a call to action that audiences appreciate while being entertained.

Earlier this year, Carlton Screen Advertising – now Digital Cinema Media – launched an interactive campaign for Volvo. It used motion tracking cameras in 12 cinemas to play an inter-cinema game, with audience members moving together steering a car down a course and competing against other audiences for points. New use of an old format made the “ad” and the brand behind it memorable for all the right reasons.

More information

Meanwhile, the Royal Marines used cinemas and screen advertising to drive people to their mobiles for more information (see case study). Such use of the “most personal” screen is expected to continue, particularly with the surge in popularity of the Apple iPhone and rival devices.

The iPhone and iPod Touch are geared for vision and can already stream BBC content through its iPlayer, while Apple’s iTunes store offers a number of broadcasters’ content for sale through the devices, and the commercial opportunities are endless.

One advertiser keen to exploit the small screen is Barclaycard. Earlier this year it claimed to be the first major advertiser to launch a new TV ad to mobile pre-rolls before its terrestrial TV launch. The campaign was the last in a “road trip” series across the US. Barclaycard understands the power of the TV spot but is investing heavily in mobile as its own ambitions in providing phone-based services means that the small screen really is a point of action.

Generic message

As Mike Hope-Milne, enterprise director at Pearl & Dean, says: “A generic message shown on a big screen will deliver greater impact than the same message being shown on a small screen, but this is by no means the end of the story.

“In an ideal world, you would have a separate creative treatment for the audience sat in the cinema to those who are at home watching TV or those interacting with content on their mobiles.

“Get this right, and a tailored creative on a mobile can achieve a higher level of awareness than a ‘generic’ commercial shown on the big screen.” 

CASE STUDY: The Royal Marines 

Royal%20MarinesThe Royal Marines targeted James Bond fans as potential recruits via cinema advertising and its first Bluetooth campaign during the showing of Quantum of Solace last month. Full-service digital agency Twentysix created video content accessible via Bluetooth in 120 cinemas across the UK before and after the film. The 45-second video aimed to achieve viewer click-through to a WAP site, where additional content could be downloaded. Activity was supported by a cinema spot created by WCRS that depicted the drama of a swamp ambush and highlighted the Royal Marines website for more information.

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