Navigating the multi screen maze can reap dividends for savvy brands

Nickie Smith, Microsoft Advertising’s trade marketing director in the UK, explains the growing importance of the multi-screen environment for marketers.

A marketer with a bottomless advertising budget could ensure blanket exposure to their brand by buying up massive chunks of national TV, print and radio space, mail drops and outdoor media. Chuck in some flashy banner ads on a major portal and some inserts into key publications and – bingo! – you’re bound to stumble across a customer or two.

The problem with this “Dave Knockles” approach to marketing is twofold: Firstly – even the super brands of the world don’t have that level of investment to throw at a campaign (and if they did they would surely have a beady eyed accountant throwing it back).

Secondly – the scattergun approach fails to take into account how consumers engage with brands, particularly in the digital sphere.

Much has been made of the value of word of mouth and the power of social networks – ONS stats show 40% of UK internet users post messages to social networks, blogs and newsgroups.

The rapid adoption of new technologies, coupled with the traditional strength of TV and the continuing year on year growth and influence of gaming (which is poised to become a game changer with its high level of social media influence – critical in an environment where word of mouth can make or break brands) is driving convergence amongst consumers using several screens to perform the same activities.

And this multi-screen consumer is no longer content to be broadcast to, but expects to engage with what they see on screen.

Increasingly, the lines between leisure and work time are blurring with younger males in particular using a combination of devices to consume content and socialize throughout the day.

According to Global Web Index analysis, one in five males between the ages of 16 and 24 go online to share content. More than three quarters watch short videos online at least once a week and such rich media content is driving the popularity of multi-screen media.

Each device serves its own purpose and can take on a different personality (teacher, best friend or priest) according to the profile of the consumer, but work together to provide positive reinforcement and a cohesive brand experience.

In short, while each screen has a separate identity, the unifying factor is the user themselves. For multi-screen users, a consistent experience of having the content they want, across their devices, delivers the multiplier effect for ads.

Therefore, a better integration of creative and messaging can leverage the traditional strength of TV and press awareness to drive consumers online for a longer, richer engaged experience.

The net result for marketers able to skilfully navigate the multi-screen environment and provide a co-ordinated experience for consumers is the ability to engage at multiple touchpoints during the consumer’s purchase journey.

The nature of the traditional purchase funnel model has evolved to become a purchase sphere where each purchase decision could potentially take a different path and so each screen has the opportunity to play a critical role. The savvy marketer in future needs to join their campaigns up effectively across different channels to maximise their impact.

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