Commentary

Our Screens, Ourselves: The Three Screen Connection

TV-Computer-Phone

How do you feel about your TV, your desktop and your mobile screens? No, how do you really feel?

At Cannes this week, during the 58th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, BBDO and Microsoft introduced new research that tries to get under our skins, into our heads, and behind even our emotions about our multi-screen lives. The multi-national survey of 15,000 consumers in five countries tries to find how we connect emotionally to TV, Web and mobile.

In broad strokes, and accounting for some important national differences, the BBDO/Microsoft study (using Ipsos) came up with a range of screen relationships. Advertisers need to understand these connections in order to leverage most effectively the respective relationships we have to them. To wit:

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We relate to TV generally as we do an "old friend." It is not so much a "boob tube" anymore than it is an "everyman" in the living room that we regard as a passive occupant. The study warns, however, that this trust and comfort is variable according to nation. In more repressive regimes such as Russia and China, where TV was a state-owned propaganda tool, the aura of distrust is there. The power of TV advertising to entertain and move is still there, but now can be transported across to Web and set top boxes, Microsoft says.

The desktop Web and PC vehicle is seen like an older brother or sister, someone who teaches and we sometimes compete with. In repressive countries, users show much more trust to the PC and Internet than they do TV. The BBDO/Microsoft team says that the Web is especially effective in advertising to younger audiences who like to share and show off their knowledge. Microsoft, the maker of Xbox and Games for Windows, of course also emphasized the competitive edge of the platform and suggests advertising on this medium should also challenge and appeal to the competitive streak in users.

Not surprisingly, we regard the mobile device most intimately. Users feel a kinship and closeness to this device. But because it is new in most regions and across most age groups, the relationship is more uniform across demographics and regions. Mobile messaging has to acknowledge the personal nature of the platform. The creative and offers need to be relevant and useful. "They also have to be intimate, surprising, unobtrusive, help the user fit in and belong," the researchers say. When it comes to tablets, the attributes of the other two screens tend to mix in, so the advertiser has to be sensitive to which use case or mode of use the tablet owner is in.

The research, presented in Cannes by Microsoft's Marc Bressel, VP, Global Marketing and BBDO North America's CMO Simon Bond, was designed to offer creative in advertising in an easy and accessible way to understand the "archetypes" of viewing different screens in order for them to adjust the messaging accordingly. "When advertising is optimized for all of these screens, it could have the potential to attract ' the next billion customers,' especially when you look at places like India where there are more than 100 million PC users or in China where there are three times as many mobile users," said Bond. 
2 comments about "Our Screens, Ourselves: The Three Screen Connection".
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  1. Rick Monihan from None, June 21, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.

    I am at an age where the mobile device is interesting, but still a bit of a burden at times. I remain enamored of my PC/laptop. For one thing, I like the keypad. For another, the size gives me a feeling of stability and balance in life - even if the smartphone is a great tool.
    I have yet to enter the world of the tablet, but I hear nice things about it, and I've had fun using them on the rare occasions I've had access.

    But what I find amusing is the reference in the article to TV. While I was at AOL, Bob Pittman referred to TV as the "Wallpaper of our lives". Many laughed at him at that time, but to some degree he may have just been too early with his description. There is no doubt that TV IS the wallpaper of our lives today. It rarely challenges us, and we accept it in a relatively passive manner. It's always there. It's comfort is in how forgettable it is. But it is interesting that in times of turbulence or trouble, the TV is where we turn.

    The question remains - for how much longer? With video at the ready on tablet and smartphone, is it necessary to make that dash to the TV when "something happens"?

    On a more personal level, after watching "Endless Summer" recently, I was amused to see the ubiquitous transistor radio that the surfers carried everywhere. What do you think today's "Endless Summer" would require in terms of portable music and information?

    From the standpoint of our industry - there is no question that the optimization factor will alter usage dramatically. It will also alter the buying and selling process in a major way.

  2. Steve Smith from Mediapost, June 21, 2011 at 3:53 p.m.

    Richard, love your point about the transister radio - the first mobile electronics medium.Talk about "wallpaper." AM radio and its relentless commercials were the soundtrack of summer nights driving and vacations at the beach.

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