Multi-Screen Ads Create Device Dilemma for Digital Marketers

The way in which media is consumed has changed beyond all recognition over the years. After all, why just sit in front of the TV when you can sit in front of the TV together with a laptop and your mobile at arm's length? According to research from Microsoft, 86 percent of Brits now have an eye on at least one other screen when watching TV, gaming or browsing the web. And that's not to mention the use nowadays of multiple mobile devices to access television on-the-move.

The trend is having a significant impact on the world of advertising. Further research carried out by advertising technology platform, Videology, revealed that in Q1 2015, 84 percent of UK ad campaigns were delivered across multiple screens. Multi-screen campaigns running in Q4 2014 stood at 79 percent. To quote the report, this is clear evidence that multi-screen campaigns are "changing the way the industry thinks about advertising and measurement."

Breaking the figure down, we can see that, of all the ad campaigns in the UK delivered over that period, 14 percent ran on PC only and just 2 percent were mobile-only. The remaining 84 percent consisted of PC-plus-mobile campaigns (17 percent) and device-agnostic campaigns (67 percent). In the U.S, research from wywy, suggests that 78 percent of Internet users access second-screen devices during shows and almost one in three TV viewers look up product information online after watching a TV ad.

The figures have additional significance because, up until now, the advertising industry has been relatively slow to react to mobile and multi-screen trends. However, advertisers are starting to take notice of consumer behaviour and providing the right solutions to match consumer needs.

Rich Astley, managing director at Videology, agrees: "More and more marketers are turning to a more holistic approach to their campaigns, driven by the proliferation of mobile devices and the need to cater to consumer convergence."

Adopting this multi-screen approach should become an integral part of advertisers' strategies. Platforms can no longer be considered as separate individual channels, but instead should be thought of as complementary. Marketers need to integrate campaigns and optimize them to capture and engage the widest audience possible.

Astley continues: "With the increasingly sophisticated mobile market showing no sign of slowing, it is mobile devices that will play a major role as part of successful cross-screen strategies."

The question is, how can digital marketers ensure they are delivering advertising that engages their audience across such a broad array of devices? If visitors can't see your ad in its optimum format or it doesn't work on their device, you are simply throwing money away. Many marketers simply do not know which devices their visitors are using to view ads and engage with multiscreen content. Instead, they spray and pray, and that can of course be a costly approach.

The answer is to banish guesswork. Know where your traffic is coming from; not only in terms of the actual device type, but also consider live contextual elements, such as connection and bandwidth. Even this most basic information will help advertisers to be more targeted and focused in the creation and delivery of multi-screen advertisements.

TV advertisers no longer have a captive and submissive audience. During commercials they are competing with mobile devices for the attention of viewers and are having to take a holistic approach to advertising to stay in the game. If advertisers are to win, they need to integrate traditional TV ads with multi-screen content that visitors can seamlessly engage with.

Daniel Weisbeck is the CEO, Netbiscuits. He joined Netbiscuits in 2012 as CMO with responsibility for overall marketing strategy and execution. He is now charged with evolving all aspects of Netbiscuits global activities, including the development of the company's Analytics and Device Detection tools.