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Distinct multi-screen behaviors emerge, opening up new marketing opportunities: report

While marketers increasingly recognize the need for multichannel marketing as multi-screen content consumption grows, many fail to grasp the different needs driving distinct cross-device behaviors.

From Facebook?s announcement this week that it will enable its mobile apps to recognize the music, movies or TV shows its users are enjoying to AT&T's recent $48.5 billion deal to buy DirecTV, evidence of multi-screen's significance is growing. A new report from Microsoft sheds some light on multi-screen consumers, pinpointing four common pathways and the underlying needs that drive each, so marketers create campaigns that better meet the needs of the always-on consumer.

?Mobile device and multi-screen are creating super human consumers,? said Frederick Stallings, senior director of mobile product strategy at ad technology company Collective, New York. ?Every single thing you do now as a consumer is enhanced by Internet connectivity, so what you are getting now is smarter, faster, more intelligent consumers.

?The opportunity is that you have the ability to have very loyal customers because if they look better, smarter, more super human because they are connected to your brand and your brand is helping them achieve that success in life, that becomes extremely valuable,? he said.

?The motivation for getting these marketing efforts right is, whatever brand does a better job of understanding this mobile behavior, whatever brand can connect from a behavioral level to these users, that?s the one that is going step out in front.?

Mr. Stallings is not affiliated with Microsoft and spoke based on his experience.

Microsoft was not able to meet the press deadline.

Content Grazing
Industry data suggests seven out of 10 consumers use a second screen device such as a tablet or a smartphone while watching television.

Understanding consumer behavior across screens, especially the smartphone screen, is necessary for marketers to take advantage of the opportunities multi-screen content habits present.

According to Microsoft research, there are four pathways of multi-screen behavior, with distinct motivations behind each.

Content Grazing is the most common style of cross device behavior and refers to when consumers use two or more screen simultaneously to access unrelated content.

The research suggests this behavior is less about multi-tasking than it is about grabbing a quick moment of fun or escape. A large number of consumers, 47 percent, say they engage in this behavior out of habit, the largest percentage naming "habit" of the four groups discussed in the report.

For marketers, this means either inserting themselves into the moment of distraction with a quick snippet of content or overcoming short-attention spans to encourage deeper engagement.

Investigative Spider-Webbing
Microsoft calls the second style of multi-screen behavior Investigative Spider-Webbing, referring to consumers who view related content on two or more devices at the same time.

In contrast to Content Grazers, deep engagement exemplifies this type of cross-screen behavior, with consumers likely to get frustrated if they cannot find compelling enough supplementary information, causing them to abandon the original content or activity.

The opportunity for marketers is to distribute content thoughtfully and to disperse it along exploratory threads to encourage deeper exploration.

Investigative Spider-Webbing typically fulfills entertainment and relaxation needs but could also be an entry into shopping or other transactional activities.

Compared to other pathways, Investigative Spider-Webbing indexes lower on social motivations.

Social Spider-Webbing, in contrast, is extroverted, with content acting as the catalyst to encourage consumers to connect to like-minded communities and add to the conversation. For example, one in five consumers engages in Social Spider-Webbing while watching live events on TV.

While the opportunity to interact with consumers where they are deeply and emotionally engaged is compelling, the challenge for brands with Social Spider-Webbing is integrating with socially generated content.

The last pathway is called Quantum and refers to consumers starting an activity on one screen and continuing it on another, with efficiency the dominant reason consumers take this pathway. Activities such as working, shopping and completing tasks are at the forefront here.

Quantum pathways are the ones consumers are most likely to start at work or on-the-go.

Consumers expect consistent, cohesive experiences across screens but technology does not always allow for this, resulting in disjointed experiences for consumers.

Microsoft suggests marketers seek out partners who can help them see ideas on one screen for further exploration on another and then encourage consumers to move to the screen that best fits the marketer's goals.

?The biggest challenge is that traditional digital marketing has always been about knowing that the consumer is sitting stationary in front of a screen and not moving for x amount of hours,? Mr. Stallings said. ?Because somebody is always going through browser, the information can be tracked by a cookie, it is all pretty uniform and pretty obvious.

?The challenge now with multi-screen is that we have an enormous amount of devices that are connected now to the Internet,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York