This week, a report from Adobe entitled “State of Content” gave us an update on multi-screening that basically suggests we’re all completely unable to concentrate on any one thing at a time.

The rise of second-screening is well documented, but the latest figures suggest that second-screening actually happens over more than two devices: on average, we use 2.23 different screens at any one time. Consider the practicalities of that – it’s actually a TV, a phone and (in 1 in 4 cases, at least) one more device – mapping consumption habits across all these spaces, and therefore finding ways to effectively communicate with people across them, poses a significant challenge.

The technology to serve content across these spaces is still in its infancy, but likely to be a real focus for technology platforms in 2016 and beyond, and the implications for advertising are far-reaching: imagine TV ads whose stories continue seamlessly on a mobile phone, providing behind-the-scenes material or the b-roll to anyone who’s interested in finding out more, pulling in the conversation happening around that product on Twitter, with a link to purchase via a device-agnostic basket. This is the consumer journey dream; a complete end-to-end solution that works wherever a consumer requests it, which can be initiated on any device at any time.

This utopian vision of the future may still be a few years away, but it’s a future that we can’t afford to ignore. Increasingly, brands are looking to digital for innovative ways of supporting the compelling stories they create in above-the-line, and as the investment increases (where digital spend is predicted to overtake TV by the end of 2017), expect the technology to become ever more sophisticated, shortening the purchase funnel at every opportunity.

Given that the technology is still catching up, what can we do in the meantime? Adobe has provided five suggestions for those of us who work in what they’ve dubbed the “multiscreen reality”:

  1. Prioritise aesthetics – 59% of those surveyed would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed over content that is categorised as “simple”, and 54% listed overall design and layout as important

2. Create for any screen – 79% would stop consuming content if it doesn’t display well on a particular device, and two-thirds would stop reading/watching if content is too long. Consider the platform being used and continually monitor and optimise content length

3. Be humorous – 70% of all respondents agreed that humour makes a brand more relatable, where only 14% consider branded content to be entertaining. There’s a significant opportunity here for brands who can create value through humour (rather than simply for the sake of being entertaining)

4. Use the power of referral – it’s well-documented that social proof is a significant driver of trust, and this study supports that, with respondents most likely to share content found through a friend or family member

 5. Be sensitive around personal data – attitudes toward personal data are varied, and need to be treated with care; 75% of respondents were willing to share at least one piece of personal information to improve content recommendations from brands, but the potential backlash from misuse of personal data poses a real risk to consumer trust

The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) – non-linear and simultaneous consumption means campaigns have to be designed for multiple screens from the outset; the time that brands could get away with simply putting their TV ad up on YouTube is long past.

Alex Willimott

About Alex Willimott

Senior Digital Strategist and coffee lover, winner of Twitter’s #PoweredbyTweets 2015, PC gamer, part-time traveller & London food fan.

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