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The New Normal: Multi-Tasking Consumers Hop from Screen to Screen

Written on
Sep 17, 2012 
Author
Daniel Laury  |

Ever see an ad on TV and open up your laptop to shop? Start reading email on your phone and finish at your desk? We’ve become a nation of “multi-screeners” – using a combination of smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs and moving between these devices to accomplish our goals. According to recent Google findings, 90 percent of all of our media consumption, or 4.4 hours per day, is happening across all four devices.

Here are just a few of the findings from the Google study:

  • 78 percent of consumers simultaneously multi-task using several devices.
  • 92 percent use PC and smartphone or TV and PC, 90 percent use the TV and smartphone, and 89 percent prefer TV and tablet.
  • 67 percent of shoppers move from one screen to another, taking multiple-device paths to purchase.
  • While 65 percent start on a smartphone, 61 percent continue on a PC or laptop and 4 percent with a tablet.
  • Consumers spend an average of 17 minutes per interaction on a smartphone screen; 30 minutes on a tablet; 39 minutes on a PC or a laptop; and 43 minutes on TV.

The rapid adoption of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) and their use alongside desktop and in-home electronics (PCs, TVs) is significantly changing the way all of us spend time online. For marketers, reaching and engaging consumers just got even more challenging.

Smartphones are the most common starting place, but which device we use depends on where we are and what we want to do: search for information, shop, plan a trip, manage our finances, social network or watch a video. You may check your email on your phone, see a discount offer, click through to see if the retailer has what you’re looking for, then order at home from your computer. Or you may see a product in a TV ad, search on your smartphone to find out if it’s available online, and complete the purchase from your laptop.

Today’s digital advertising world has become a far more complex arena. It’s changed from a linear, predictable funnel to a complex engagement path on which consumers interact with brands via multiple touch points. No longer does the average consumer decide to purchase in the store, but well before that, when they’re researching online. Not only do consumers travel from website to blog to video to newsletter to display ad back to website, they are also using multiple devices to do so. According to Google, “consumers take a multi-device path to purchase.”

To be successful, advertisers must understand and analyze the journey their audiences travel, and be able to deliver a consistent message throughout that journey, telling their customers a “story” along that engagement path. Here are key strategies for marketers in this complex environment.

  1. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Marketing strategies can no longer be separated into “digital” and “traditional.” As consumers simultaneously use multiple channels to get information and research products and services, brands need to understand how their customers use all types of media, design strategies for each channel, and integrate messaging across them.
  2. Study consumer habits. Brands need to tailor their audience’s experience to each channel. Learn how your customers use their devices and design websites that reflect specific needs and habits for each type of screen.
  3. Go mobile. Designing a user-friendly mobile site is now even more critical. Offer consumers a website experience that is built and optimized for the mobile user. Your mobile site needs to be easy to navigate using just the keypad; built with lightweight pages and limited graphics; and formatted for the most popular mobile devices and platforms.
  4. Be smartphone savvy. Smartphones have the shortest user sessions but are the most common starting place for online activities. Be sure the initial part (at least) of your audience’s experience is designed for a smartphone and integrate it with how they might continue on other devices.
  5. Make it easy. Shopping needs to be streamlined across devices so consumers can find what they’re looking for quickly and make a purchase easily. Allow customers to save their progress between devices with “smart” shopping carts, forms, and apps.
  6. Count correctly. Different devices are used differently and metrics and conversion goals need to reflect that. Identity the paths to conversion based on the devices that your consumers use. Don’t simply rely on “last click” conversions but implement a more sophisticated attribution model that can help you understand the weight and lift of each channel.
  7. Try texting. Reach smartphone users with text ads, banner ads, splash pages and animations. These ads are great for driving users to your mobile website, click to call campaigns, branding/CRM, and interactive campaigns (e.g., surveys, sweepstakes, voting, polling).
  8. Optimize. Since consumers rely on search to connect sessions across screens, brands need to insist on keyword consistency across campaigns and devices. Continue to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to maintain a healthy presence in SERPs and enjoy the same rankings in the mobile world as in the desktop world.

To reach and engage the multi-screen consumer, successful advertisers will define a clear consumer engagement path that tells a story across multiple Internet channels and devices, complete with precise tracking and reporting that measures and lifts conversions and delivers increased volumes under the same ROI.

To find out more about today’s consumer, and tips for marketers and agencies that want to engage with them, see my article, “Reaching the Multi-Tasker in 2012.”





Geary LSF Group CEO Daniel Laury is a forerunner and champion of performance oriented digital marketing with a background in international finance, marketing and technology. An internet pioneer, Laury co-founded LuckySurf.com, which became the 17th-most-visited site in the world by December 2000. In 2005, he founded LSF Interactive, an agency that has become one of the largest global digital marketing agencies. In 2007 and 2010 LSF was recognized as one of Inc. Magazine's fastest-growing private companies in America. In 2012, LSF Interactive merged with Geary Group to form Geary LSF Group, one of the world's leading independent digital marketing companies, with a roster of brands across the U.S. and Europe.

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