A Tale of Many Screens

Christmas background with opened magic book

Once upon a time, TV, desktop, tablet, and smartphone screens lived in happy and separate kingdoms. Isolated by technological moats and departmental fortifications, they relished their self-containment.

However, the times have changed. Marketers have begun knocking down these walls. They are unifying the lands with the aim to see the larger picture and create greater brand continuity.

So as you look to connect with viewers across the many screens on which they are consuming content, here are 3 important storytelling elements to keep in mind.

The Setting

Depending on your target audience, the where and when to implement a cross–screen strategy will differ. Planning ahead and considering all of the different places your consumer is viewing content will help tremendously as you prepare your own advertising content. You will want creative that can adapt to and make the most of each setting.

For example, you may begin with a :60 TV ad whose mission is to drive response. This spot may showcase a range of products highlighting benefits and delivering a strong call to action. With the same content, you might then edit shorter Facebook versions that focus on one product and add a special offer. And for YouTube TrueView, you may build a spot that tells less of your product story and more of a brand one. While each individual creative may be modified for the setting, the content and story all come from one common place.

The Characters

Every story has a collection of characters, right? The major, the minor, the dynamic, the round, the flat, the symbolic are all different characters with different purposes. When developing your cross-screen strategy, think of your audience in a similar fashion

Start with your main character, that is, your core target audience. For this example, we’ll say that it’s men and women ages 35-55 with kids at home. To reach as many as possible within this immense target, we’ll likely look to the screen of broadcast and cable TV. From there, you can begin defining your minor characters. Are you marketing to women who love to garden? Men who ride motorcycles? Or parents with kids headed off to college? Distinguish these characters and then target them with precision on digital and social channels. Or you may consider using addressable TV. For each character (audience), the creative can be tailored specifically to speak to them.

For marketers with increasingly fragmented consumers, reaching your audience “everywhere they watch, on every screen,” as AT&T AdWorks puts it, is most compelling by using multiple characters.

The Plot

To help your story unfold and find a path toward a happy ending, you will want to test across the many screens and platforms available. You’ll likely have some surprises, both positive and negative. Either way, the insight to what’s performing most efficiently, where, when and with whom, will guide you to your optimal media mix.

And the good news is, with the merger of comScore and Rentrak, measuring consumers’ behavior across screens is becoming more seamless than ever. In a February 2016 press release the CEO of comScore, Serge Matta, said, “Together, these (comScore and Rentrak) two principal architects of the multiscreen future will deliver the cross-platform currencies that have been demanded for so long.”  As the process becomes fine-tuned to your target audience many will see gains in ROI, backend metrics, and brand lift.

While I sit here writing this blog, I have four screens staring back at me. It’s no wonder these worlds are uniting at last. And as we turn the page and build a relationship between every screen, just remember: like any great story, with the right setting, characters and plot, it’s easy to find your fairytale ending.

The End.