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Multiscreen users not as plugged into synched content as some think: Microsoft

Sixty-eight percent of consumers who use two or more screens simultaneously are using the devices to access unrelated content, according to a new report from Microsoft Advertising.

Microsoft?s ?Cross-Screen Engagement: The Four Pathways? study looks at different ways that consumers access content across different devices. The findings point to a growing need for marketers to not only tailor content for specific devices but also develop compelling content that moves users from screens.

?To understand how to deploy rich, consumer-first experiences across screens, it is critical to move beyond looking at what people are doing and focus instead on why they are engaging in these behaviors,? said Natasha Hritzuk, senior director of global insights and analytics at Microsoft, Redmond, WA.

?The four pathways as discussed are not just behavioral pathways ? they are driven by clear motivations that help provide guideposts so marketers can deliver cross-screen experiences that tap into core consumer needs and motivations,? she said.

?Is the pathway about relaxation and investigation? Is it about social connection? Or is it about being productive and efficient? There are very different marketing ramifications for each mindset.?

Content is king
Microsoft partnered with Ipsos OTX and Flamingo Research on the study across five markets in Sydney, Chicago, London, Sao Paulo and Toronto.

The research took place between Nov 2012 ? February.

Microsoft breaks down four types of consumers in the study, which each have distinct habits.

The 68 percent of consumers who use two or more screens to interact with separate forms of content are grouped into the content grazers pathway.

Content grazers are the most habit-forming and distracted group, per Microsoft.

Additionally, this type of behavior is most likely to take place either in the morning or in the evening.

With these kinds of users, advertisers should be thinking of cross-screen ways to sync up content to grab a user?s attention since they are likely not fully engaged when they interact with different pieces of content.

Microsoft also tested ads in Windows 8 apps that are meant to hit these kinds of users with quick bits of content. The company claims that the Windows 8 ads generated a 92 percent ad recall rate.

The second group of users in the study fall into the quantum pathway. These users are goal-oriented and are completing tasks across multiple screens.

Forty-six percent of the consumers surveyed in the study were lumped into the quantum group.

Consumers in this group will go to great lengths to find what they are looking for. Completing tasks, working and shopping are all activities associated with the quantum pathway.

Additionally, the sequence that consumers use screens is based on intent, meaning that a user might pick a mobile device to help them research a purchase and buy it later on their desktop.

This is the group that marketers have to cater to with seamless experiences across smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Nowadays, consumers not only expect for their favorite brands to have a mobile presence, they also expect an equally compelling experience from the Web site.

Mobile connection
The final two groups center entertainment and social as their primary content activities.

Additionally, these consumers are most likely to interact with content while at home while the previous two groups are more focused around work or on-the-go activity.

The investigative spider-webbing path includes consumers who view related content on more than one screen at a time. Unlike the content grazers, investigative spider-webbers are using devices in tandem to access content.

Microsoft groups 57 percent of consumers in the study into this group.

Investigative spider-webbers use multiple screens because they are looking for deep information on one piece of information. Marketers targeting this group should be focused on triggering quick engagement and information for consumers on each device.

Consumers in this category are most likely to interact with content at night, when they most likely have more time to look for information.

The final group is social spider-webbing and represents 39 percent of the consumers surveyed.

Social spider-webbers want to share content and look for outlets to spread content. For example, one in five consumers in this group share content while watching television.

?It?s always going to depend on your marketing objective, but thinking about the need-state underlying current consumer behavior will ultimately enable marketers to be more useful and relevant to consumers,? Ms. Hritzuk said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York