Microsoft has released results of an interesting study which examines why consumers are using multiple devices, the motivations that drive "simultaneous or sequential" usage across those devices, and what the opportunities for marketers are today.
The practical side of the study provides details on the modern consumer experience and addresses how consumers are in control of their own flow of content – and what marketers can do about it.
Microsoft found four typical "pathways" for the modern digital consumer. The first, "content grazing," is the most common pathway at 68 percent of consumers falling into this category. Content grazing occurs when consumers use two or more screens to access unrelated content (such as watching television and checking email and texting a friend).
The second multi-screen pathway is Investigative Spider-Webbing, and 57 percent of consumers engage in this manner. In this pathway, consumers are seeking information across multiple devices at the same time. For example, watching a television show and seeking out information on a tablet or PC.
There are also consumers that are on a "quantum journey" according to the research. 46 percent land in this pathway, where productivity and efficiency are paramount as consumers are trying to accomplish a specific task. In this consumer category, each screen adds something to the ultimate goal. For example, a consumer might take a photo of something on their mobile phone, look up reviews of the product ad on their tablet, and then purchase it at home on their desktop.
The last multi-screening pathway is also the least common. Just 39 percent engage in Social Spider-Webbing. Consumers are typically extroverted in this pathway and focused on sharing content and connecting with others across their digital devices.
Spider-Webbing, Quantum Journey, Content Grazing? What’s it all mean? Microsoft provided some tips for marketers based on these finding's and they certainly play to its own strengths. Microsoft not so subtly touted Windows 8 as a suggestion, which promises one of the more consistent and cohesive experiences across devices - from desktop to Xbox.
Microsoft also suggested that marketers be "Always On" and tailor their message throughout the day. For example, connect them with commercial content that can be consumed in small bites via Bing and casual gaming apps, and then help them investigate or communicate deeper in the evening through Windows 8 Ads in Apps, MSN Video and interactive rich media ad units such as the new IAB standard Filmstrip unit.
While not the most actionable data, it should provide Web marketers with some insights into how consumers may interact with brand messaging, reveal opportunities that they may not have known existed, and even generate some excitement about employing a system which is built from the ground up with experience truly in mind.