6 September 2012
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The new “multi-screen” world

Its origins as a simple search engine long a dusty memory, Google now offers its products and services across just about any digital touchpoint you could name. So when it comes to research and recommendations on what today’s “multi-screen” world means for businesses, their findings make for interesting reading.

The “multi-screen” world referred to in the title of their research report refers to the quadrumvirate of the Laptop/PC, Mobile phone, Tablet and Television. For more and more of their daily activities, consumers are moving freely among and between these devices.

Google commissioned Sterling Brands and Ipsos to get a better idea on what devices people consume media, what motivates their activities across devices, how they complete the tasks, and more. With an n-size of 1,611, the study was broad in scope, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the focus on the US means that its findings can’t be directly extrapolated to other countries.

Of their eight key findings summarized at the start of the report, three stand out to us:

  • The device we choose to use is often driven by our context: where we are, what we want to accomplish and the amount of time needed
  • Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions. They have the highest number of user interactions per day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens
  • Portable screens allow us to move easily from one device to another to achieve a task.

What does this mean when it comes to designing services for today’s multi-screen world? One issue is that the orchestration of services needs to be done with the “touchpoint-hopping” in mind. In other words, if a user starts the process of getting a quote on a car insurance policy on their mobile phone, they should be able to easily resume the activity on their laptop without starting over.

This is indeed one of several recommendations made at the end of the report:

  • The prevalence of sequential usage makes it imperative that businesses enable customers to save their progress between devices. Saved shopping carts, “signed-in” experiences or the ability to email progress to oneself helps keep consumers engaged, regardless of device used to get to you

And two further helpful lessons:

  • The vast majority of media interactions are screen-based, screen-based, and so marketing strategies should no longer be viewed as “digital” or “traditional”. Businesses should understand all of the ways that people consume media, particularly digital, and tailor strategies to each channel
  • Consumers turn to their devices in various contexts. Marketing and websites should reflect the needs of a consumer on a specific screen, and conversion goals should be adjusted to account for the inherent differences in each device

While the full report is available as a PDF, Google has also published a detailed blogpost on their Mobile Ads blog.

Source: “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior” [PDF] (Google, August 2012)

Customer experience (74), Customer journey (11), Digital strategy (21), User experience (43)

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