Capitalising on Customers’ Multi-Screen Behaviour

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The traditional evening TV viewing experience has changed, with most people now using additional devices while watching a program. Last night, my colleagues and I were discussing the different places we’ve been banned from using social media and devices. After rolling over in bed and landing on two iPads and an iPhone, my fiancée has banned tablets from our bedroom. Jo had gone further and banned smartphones too. And Rob, after being asked one too many times what was going on on TV, has banned devices from the sofa.

Unwittingly, Rob has become the dream customer for broadcasters and advertisers. Using multiple devices simultaneously is part of a well-established customer trend, which is particularly worrying for traditional broadcasters. Customers’ attention is now divided between two or even three screens: a TV, tablet / laptop and smartphone. Captive audiences are no longer captive, advertising is easily ignored and notifications constantly demand customers’ attention.

According to research from Ipsos and Google, 77% of viewers are using another screen simultaneously while watching TV. This activity could be complimentary, such as looking up an actor from the show or joining a debate on an online forum. However in most cases it isn’t, the most common activity is emailing (60%), followed by social networking (42%) and gaming (25%). TV is now the least engaging of multi-screen devices, according to research from Microsoft Advertising.

Customers are aware of this change in behaviour, and while it is not deliberate, or even desirable from their perspective, it is not expected to change. Therefore broadcasters and advertisers are trying to adapt existing content to this new form of competition. Examples include:

  • Time Warner enables customers to view their content on any device.
  • CBC designs experiences around its programs, as Canadian viewers are the most active researchers of the shows and actors they are watching.
  • Fox has partnered with Electronic Arts to merge TV and gaming in The Simpsons, with gamers required to watch episodes to gather clues.

However the leading thinking on multi-screen usage is coming out of Asia. Here researchers at Sinomonitor have identified the peak usage times for different devices, and built strategies around them:

  • Unsurprisingly, laptop and PC usage dominate during the working day, but as customers have little time, the recommended activity is awareness building.
  • Tablet usage peaks late at night, as people surf from the sofa or go to bed to watch the end of a film. This relaxed time is a great opportunity to build brand warmth.
  • Finally smartphone usage peaks around commuting hours, when customers are in an action-orientated frame of mind. This is the best time to prompt customers to complete purchases.

Samsung is one company that is capitalising on this intelligence, by timing campaign and selecting channel to reach customers when they are most receptive to certain messages. In doing this, Samsung aimed to move customers through the purchase journey, from awareness to preference to action. The result was a 15% increase in brand awareness, 20% increase in brand preference and 10% increase in sales.

The message here is that successful companies are changing their digital strategy to capitalise on customer behaviour, rather than making tactical changes to existing content. Companies that want to replicate the success of Samsung should take the following actions:

  1. Use quantitative and ethnographic (observational) research to understand customers’ relationship with technology.
  2. Develop a multi-channel strategy that reflects customer usage. Instead of lumping all things ‘digital’ together, recognise that all channels are now digital.
  3. Bring customer experience and marketing professionals together, so tools such as personas, customer journeys and UX design can be applied to marketing.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Smith
Colin Smith is a Manager at the Customer Experience Company in Sydney, Australia. He has 15 years experience working throughout Australia, Asia and Europe. Most recently Colin worked as a Principal Strategy Consultant for Huawei, China's biggest telecoms company based in their South China Head Office.

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