Smartphones have permanently altered the face and function of marketing as consumers are more frequently engaging in purchase activities across a 3 screen environment (i.e. television, the internet via computers and tablets, and mobile smartphones.) In digital ad parlance this is called “convergence” - we call it "3 card monte", either way it presents both “opportunity” and “challenge.”
The “opportunity” in convergence is that marketers have a chance to reach affluent people across multiple platforms with their marketing message. The “multi-screen generation,” are adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who have more discretionary income, are better educated, are more likely to be employed, and increasingly engage in activities across multiple screens. They also regularly engage with a smartphones, television, gaming consoles, and computers, spending an average of 54 hours per week interacting with media devices.
Convergence presents a “challenge” for marketers in the sense that they now have to make three screens instead of one -- smartphones, televisions, and computers -- work for their brand and for their consumers. There is little doubt that reaching this educated and affluent demographic can easily translate into better sales and brand expansion, but because this audience is so smart and tech-savvy, they are not easily reached nor are they susceptible to marketing messages. So how do you effectively reach them and make three screens work for your brand?
For starters, it helps to know the role each screens plays in people’s lives. Television is a medium for leisure; computers tend to be for information and production (e.g. work, shopping, news consumption, etc.); and smartphones for some information (via apps) but mostly for communication through talk and text. Understanding this usage will help you reach this audience with the right message as they engage with each individual screen. Considering the above, it comes as no surprise that three-screen consumption has impacted the way that people shop.
Knowing that computers and smartphones are used for primarily communication, productivity, and convenience (that is to say people use them to research products and / or services, pass along information, and make purchases) it therefore makes sense that television ads should be more akin to branded entertainment with online and mobile advertising acting like a hybrid of direct marketing and ‘directed’ branding among current customers via social media.
According to a Microsoft study, the purchase funnel has evolved from five phases to three: brand awareness, consideration and preference, and encouragement to purchase. In the new funnel, all screens work together to drive brand awareness, while the computer is the dominant form in the middle of the funnel*.
The implications of three-screen convergence are huge for branding and marketing. While each screen plays a unique but no less important part in driving sales, they also work together to drive awareness and strengthen brand measures. If your brand embraces a three-screen marketing strategy, you can produce results from the top of the funnel to the bottom by reaching people as they engage with multiple devices.