How can marketers react to multi-screen trends?

With increasing smartphone penetration, the growing use of tablets, as well as laptops and PCs, it’s more than likely that people are viewing TV while using another device, or with one close at hand.

For our Multi-Screen Marketer report (free to Econsultancy members), produced in association with the IAB, we looked at the trends in this area, and the important lessons for marketers.

I’ll look at some of the stats from the report, as well as examples of publishers and brands that are beginning to adapt to this trend.

Multi-tasking across devices has arrived: the stats

Unlike some other digital phenomena, it’s not the sole territory of early adopters. Even among those respondents with just a television and computer, 52% report that it’s somewhat or very likely that they’re using another device while watching television.

With each screen added to the mix, that percentage rises, with 60% of smartphone users (three screens) and 65% of tablet owners (four screens) saying that multi-device use is the norm while watching TV.

Using devices to respond to TV

Tablets change the game, because they bring the app ecosystem together with the best usability aspects of the smartphone and computer. You can do plenty with your phone, but it’s not always easy.

65% of smartphone users in the sample say it’s very common that sites don’t work well for their device. Tablet owners are significantly more likely to use their mobile devices to take an action sparked by something they’re watching.

The lessons for marketers

These multi-screen consumers are ready to switch attention to their second (or third and fourth) devices when they become bored, or when distracted by a text or some other alert.

For marketers, there is an opportunity to create content and experiences which are complementary to that shown on TV.

This may be to complement live events and provide further opportunities for advertisers, or to optimise response rates to advertising seen on TV.

Here are a few examples:


To promote the new 20th Century Fox film Prometheus,  a new three-minute trailer for the film was screened simultaneously online, on Channel 4 and on social TV app Zeebox.

Viewers were then encouraged to tweet about the film using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis. During the next ad break, Channel 4 screened a 40 second spot which included viewer’s tweets about the trailer.

Those shown on screen were all positive, though not all of those on Twitter were:

The campaign was a success in terms of getting people to talk about the film, with the volume of tweets peaking at more than 4,000, while the hashtag was trending for a while. At its peak the Twitter activity reached more than 15m users.

Continued at Econsultancy.

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