It's a Multi-Screen World

According to results from the AdReaction Report, Marketing in a Multi-screen World, from Millward Brown, a typical multiscreen user consumes 7 hours of screen media per day during a 5 hour period. In most countries, smartphones are now the primary screen, taking up 2.5 hours of time daily. Smartphones and laptops dominate daytime screen use while TV takes center stage in the evenings, when tablet use also peaks.

For US respondents:

  • 45% of daily smartphone time is spent simultaneously with TV
  • 37% of daily laptop time is spent with TV
  • 55% of daily tablet time is spent simultaneously with TV

The study, 15-question survey administered via smartphone or tablet, to more than 12,000 multiscreen users, ages 16 to 44, across 30 countries. Multiscreen users were defined as people who own, or have access to, a TV and a smartphone and/or a tablet.

Some experts view multiscreen proactively and are trying to capitalize on the opportunity to amplify experiences between brands and consumers, says the report. Others view it more defensively and worry that multiscreen could potentially result in a “lack of attention” for traditional approaches Those in the middle are not yet sure if it presents opportunity or threat, but are investigating curiously and adjusting their approaches accordingly. All agreed that multiscreen behaviors are impacting how they approach their media mix.

  • “There’s no funnel any more. It’s not linear, people like to bounce around. All of these screens are putting things in front of you that can trigger purchases instead of cueing up the purchase cycle. Brands have got to get out there or they won’t be noticed.”
  • “Multiscreening is simply how people are living their lives. Integrated marketing campaigns across Mobile-Internet-TV will make a real difference in terms of how they touch people, generating a deeper impact and creating word-of-mouth effects.”
  • “Don’t make it hard for consumers to ‘follow’ what you’re presenting. Make each part of the experience stand on its own. Each of the parts has to tell the whole story.”
  • “People are so used to being broadcasted at with TV, the interaction experience doesn’t come naturally to them. Make it easy for them to take part.”
  • “Shifted multiscreen behavior is the phenomenon that can most easily be used for daily media planning since it can be planned in advance.”

Source: Firefly Millward Brown; Qualitative interviews with industry experts

In summary, the detailed study found that just 35% of screen time is simultaneous use of TV and a digital device. Of this, just 14% is meshing (simultaneous use for related content), and 22% is stacking (simultaneous use for unrelated content). Therefore, says the report, the biggest multiscreen marketing opportunity is shifting (65% of screen time). Brands can take advantage of shifting by using synergistic multiscreen campaigns.

TV is generally more of a starting point and digital devices are generally used more to continue/complete tasks. Multiscreen sequences are most likely to start on TV and continue on a smartphone. However, all screen sequences are possible. Receptivity is higher for TV than for ads on digital screens, says the report, but brands cannot rely TV ads alone. Consumers expect brands to be present on multiple devices and are impressed by those who find entertaining and useful ways of delivering across screens.

For a typical global multiscreen user smartphones are now comfortably the largest single screen medium around the world. Combined with tablet minutes, mobile devices now take up 47% of all screen time. Asked, “Roughly how long did you spend yesterday…watching television (not online); Using the Internet on a laptop or PC; on a smartphone; on a tablet?” the results showed:

Daily Time Spent


Time Spent


113 minutes (27%)


147 minutes (35%)


108 minutes (26%)


50 minutes (12%)

Total minutes

417 minutes

Source: Millward Brown, March 2014

As of 2013 there is still a significant gap between time spent on mobile devices and global mobile media investment levels (ZenithOptimedia). It’s no surprise, says the report, that mobile spend is forecast to grow rapidly in the next few years, and faster than forecast.

Asked “Roughly how long did you spend yesterday…watching television (not online)/ Using the Internet on a laptop or PC/ on a smartphone/ on a tablet?” the study shows:

Daily Use of Media






Daily screen minutes

113 27%

108 26%

147 35%

50 12%

Global media spend




4% combined




12% combined

Source: Millward Brown, March 2014

Overall screen minutes vary significantly by country, from 9 hours in Indonesia to just over 5 hours in Italy. US…444 Minutes, 7.4 hours. Smartphones are now the most viewed medium in all countries except UK, France and Spain (where TV leads), and Hungary, Poland, Russia, & Slovakia (where laptops lead).

Of the total time screens are being viewed, simultaneous use with TV is taking place around a third of the time. Of their 7 hours screen consumption, 109 minutes is simultaneous consumption of a digital screen while watching TV. Hence, a typical global multiscreen user spends just over 5 hours (308 minutes) with screens every day.

And, breaking down the simultaneous minutes into “meshing” (where TV and a digital screen are being used to consume related content), and “stacking” (where the content is unrelated), more time is spent stacking than meshing.

When asked: At the same time as you were watching TV yesterday, how much time did you also spend using the Internet? And, while you were watching TV and using the Internet yesterday, how much of the time were you doing something related to what was happening on TV?, the study found:


Time & Percent of Usage

Shifting (at different points in time)

(199”) 65%

Stacking (at the same time)(unrelated content)

(67”) 22%

Meshing (related content)

(42”) 14%

Total minutes:


Net minutes:


Source: Millward Brown, March 2014

Social media stacking is the multiscreen equivalent of putting the kettle on. TV is also often being viewed partially/ passively. There are less reasons for people to mesh; more information is the main one. These reasons are fairly universal, with limited variation by country or region, says the report.

Why Multi-Screen


% of Respondents

Any meshing reason


   Follow up on a TV ad


   Interact with what's happening on TV


   Discuss what I’m watching (e.g. via social media)


   Find more information about what's on TV


Any stacking reason


   Need to get other things done


   Someone else has chosen what's on TV


   Just have TV on for background noise


   TV is not interesting enough for all my attention


   Keep up with friends on social media (not TV related)


   Fill time during ad breaks


Source: Millward Brown, March 2014

Due to highest overall viewing, smartphones are most likely to be used both simultaneously with TV, and stand alone. Laptops are proportionately most likely to be used exclusively. Tablets are proportionately most likely to be used alongside TV, says the report:

At the same time

  • TV+Laptop 31”   (29%)
  • TV+smartphone 54”   (37%)
  • TV+Tablet 24”   (49%)

At different points in time

  • Laptop 77”   (71%)
  • Smartphone 93”   (63%)
  • Tablet 25”   (51%)

The report concludes by suggesting that, in order to reach and engage a large number of multiscreen users, most global brands will need to deploy media plans with a far heavier mobile emphasis than they do at present. This is increasingly the primary way to access many groups of people. The main principles for success across screens are to be:

  • Consistent – Whenever someone engages with you, whatever screen they’re using and wherever they are, your brand experience and messaging should be uniform
  • Connected – Think about second-screen experiences, specifically how your marketing can interact engagingly between screens and travel seamlessly across screens
  • Considered – Some screens are better than others at communicating particular aspects of your brand’s personality
  • Concise – Use mobile-friendly, shareable content that entertains first, informs second

For the complete study in PDF format, please visit Millward-Brown here.

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