Microsoft Advertising unveils Cross-Screen Engagement study

MSA's Natasha Hritzuk breaks down the study, which offers insights on behaviours that drive multi-screen consumption, and implications for advertisers.

Yesterday morning, Natasha Hritzuk, Microsoft Advertising’s director of insights and analytics, revealed findings from the company’s global Cross-Screen Engagement study, which sheds insight on the multi-screen behaviour of Canadian consumers, and the implications it has for advertisers.

Microsoft Advertising gathered data for the study through a partnership with Flamingo Research, which recruited consumers aged 18 to 54 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK and the US to record eight digital diaries over five days. It also used data from Ipsos OTX for market representative panels of adults aged 18 to 65 from each of the five countries, including 500 Canadian respondents for a global total of 3,586 consumers.

The Cross-Screen Engagement study highlights the four key pathways of consumers’ multi-screen behaviour, content grazing, investigative spider-webbing, social spider-webbing and quantum journeys, and the motivations behind each.

It shows that content grazing, or using multiple devices to access unrelated content is the most common pathway. According to the data, 71% of Canadian consumers are content grazers, and are primarily driven by habit and the desire to relax and entertain themselves. As such, content grazers are particularly active in the mornings and evenings, when they have more control over their own time.

Investigative spider-webbing, or using multiple screens simultaneously to seek content that amplifies the primary screen experience, is also a common pathway for 56% of Canadian consumers. While habit and entertainment are still key motivators, it’s also driven by a desire for information, is more oriented around shopping and other tasks, and is more prominent in the evening.

By comparison, social spider-webbing, which is a behaviour pathway for 39% of consumers, is similar to investigative spider-webbing in that users are seeking content to amplify primary screen experiences. However, it’s driven by a desire to connect with others and be social, and as a result plays a prominent role throughout the day for Canadians.

Quantum journeys, meanwhile, are a behaviour pathway for 49% of consumers. In quantum journeys, consumers use multiple devices at different times throughout the day to achieve a specific goal, making them the most intent-based of the pathways, as well as more motivated by a desire to be efficient and complete work-related or shopping-related tasks.

With the diversity of motivators driving multi-screen behaviour, Hritzuk said it’s more important than ever for media agencies to abandon the traditional model of siloed media buys that focus on pushing content to devices, and shift instead to strategies that are built on insight into the context in which consumers use their devices.

“There’s still this idea that you can take your TV commercial, adjust it a bit and land it across different devices. But this doesn’t play to the strength of the devices, and from a consumer-first perspective, it doesn’t tap into the ways consumers want to absorb content on devices,” she explained.

In particular, she said that media buyers must become more creative when it comes to building media strategies around tablets, which offer more immersive, tactile experiences, and smartphones, which give users easy access to information at their fingertips.

She added that media agencies will have to work more closely with their creative partners and clients to better understand the content, and ensure that it’s delivered to the right device at the right time to create a seamless multi-screen experience.

For content grazers, this means delivering short bursts of content across platforms that don’t disrupt their “me time” and plays into their desire to relax and have fun. Meanwhile, advertisers can reach social spider-webbers by offering them deeper, emotional content that connects them to like-minded communities through user-generated content like reviews.