Fresh research conducted by Millward Brown uncovers the opportunities brands often miss when trying to engage TV viewers on smartphones and tablets
Marketers have long toiled over creating advertising that keeps people engaged. Award-winning creativity has kept pace with the leaps and bounds in consumer connectivity. Yet as more people turn to a multitude of devices to view content – the multiscreen phenomenon – there is more advertisers can do to keep their brands connected with consumers wherever and whenever they are most receptive to advertising.
Most brands don't advertise across all media all of the time. Marketers recognise that they need to be more present in other media formats but they are not adapting their strategies fast enough to match the momentum of multiscreen use. Dealing with multiple screens can also be a challenge for brands that are wary of imposing themselves on consumers at times when they may not be receptive to advertising.
The UK has the highest penetration of smartphone users (85%) than any other country surveyed as part of Millward Brown's 2014 AdReaction study. Launched this week, the study analyses the behaviour and receptivity to advertising of multiscreen users (people who own and use more than one screen to watch video content) in 30 countries globally.
While TV viewing peaks in the evenings, it's the smartphone that dominates screen time during the day, capturing 111 minutes or 27% of total daytime screen time. This compares to laptops (which claim 97 minutes or 25% of daily screen time) and tablets (55 minutes or 13% of daily screen time daily). Across the world, the smartphone ranks top of the 'most used screen' table. However, it's a different picture in the UK with TV dominating viewing time for multiscreeners and commanding 148 minutes of the seven hours total daily screen time.
The AdReaction 2014 study also reveals that more than a third (2 hours) of daily screen time is spent using more than one screen. This is where the real prize is for advertisers.
The survey suggests that people are as receptive to ads on smartphones as they are on tablets and laptops. However the opportunity for brands remains strongest with TV, with its high reach and receptivity. AdReaction 2014 confirms that UK consumers remain more receptive to advertisements on televisions than they are on their laptops, smartphones or tablets – ahead of the global average.
Smartphones, followed by laptops and tablets, remain full of potential for advertisers, particularly among younger viewers who are more equally receptive to all screens.
The lack of a single formula and popular approach will require marketers to experiment with multiple ways of connecting across screens. They should avoid taking a screen by screen approach to their campaigns, instead creating advertising that can be integrated seamlessly across screens.
When people are using two or more screens at once they are either stacking content (accessing unrelated content) or meshing (accessing related content).
Meshers could be watching TV while searching for more detailed programme information or chatting to their friends about the show using Twitter or Facebook. Surprisingly 7% of multiscreeners 'mesh' and are combining content in this way, which puts the huge amount of buzz about how many and often people are 'second screening' while watching TV into context. It's an issue of quality over quantity in this case. While meshing moments may happen less often, they can clearly be very stimulating and involving when they do occur, making them a great enhancer for receptivity. Advertisers can look at synchronistic ad campaigns that leverage these interactions between screens. Although not all brands will be able to achieve this, second screen play-alongs can be highly popular and great way of mapping the multiscreen journey.
More time however is spent by multiscreeners 'shifting' between screens in a non-simultaneous way. This provides the biggest multiscreen opportunity for brands who want to create a consistent presence across screens. The most common individual sequence starts on a TV and continues to a smartphone. There are other journeys that happen too and advertisers need to understand clearly the behaviour and receptivity of their own audiences. Brands targeting under 25s and male multiscreeners for example will be interested to know that these demographic segments spend longer meshing, especially via smartphones and tablets. Females are more likely to watch TV and use tablets than men, who favour TVs and laptops. People aged 25 to 45 years notch up more TV screen minutes than people aged 16 to 24 years. There is surprisingly little variation between weekday and weekend screen volumes.
Some screens are better than others at communicating particular aspects of a brand's personality. Brands will need to think carefully about how they overcome resistance to advertising on digital screens. Micro video, which is very mobile friendly and highly viral, is one option.
Understanding the journeys people make between screens provides a guide that advertisers and agencies can use to be more present; creating ad campaigns that are not only creative, but that also enable deeper engagement with consumers wherever and whenever they are most receptive to advertising.
First published in the March 17, 2014 edition of The Guardian