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I have a couple of friends who a few years ago I thought were strange, not strange in a disturbing way but strange in the relationship technology had in their lives.
They would sit on the sofa each evening watching TV and each separately engrossed in their own individual laptops. Not only were they watching TV but also leading totally separate lives behind their laptops, barely communicating with each other. I used to joke that they were communicating via IM and email whilst sitting next to each other.
That wasn’t many years ago but at the time seemed a new way of living, now, looking at my life at home my wife and myself mirror this action and I no longer think it unusual, in fact the more I study web behaviour the more I come to realise this is becoming normal.
Once, in the not too distant past the TV was the only screen, it was a large and expensive piece of electronics that took centre stage in our living rooms. There was only one in most households and as such the family would sit together absorbed in the same content and with the right programming TV stations could gain huge audiences. With the arrival of the PC there was a certain extra demand on our free time but until recently PC’s were themselves large immovable pieces of equipment often kept outside the main living room. Whilst the PC would be shared between households only one could be entertained at a time (bar some gaming use). With the increase in the number of TV sets per household the fragmentation of household entertainment had begun, different household members living behind different screens being entertained and absorbing different content.
Initially laptops were prohibitively expensive and were the preserve of business use, the relative and real fall in the cost of laptops matched with the desire to have a “personal” computer and to access content anywhere has led to the true multiscreen household with TV’s in a number of rooms and a laptop for each person in the household.
Whilst the PC’s world was evolving rapidly to become more portable and personal the humble phone was going through a similar transformation. Only 20 years ago the mobile phone was the size of 2 bricks, only made phone calls and cost a small fortune. It was the preserve of the few and without it you would become un-contactable once you walked out of the door. Imagine that! Imagine to, 20 years ago, predicting what the phone would look like today, its size and its capabilities. It would seem pure fantasy.
The phone today provides comfort. We are safe in the knowledge when we leave the home that our life is with us, all our communications, all our interests, and our diaries, it makes us feel secure, we are never alone. It is close to us.
The latest in portable entertainment and communication is the tactile tablet which is taking on the laptop as the laptop took on the desktop. Apple tablet growth rates are higher than the iPhone was and the market is in its infancy. Whilst these devices are distinctly different from the current laptop range they will converge in the future. With the latest models having detachable keyboards and news that the next version of Windows (Windows 8) will work across all platforms I can see that laptops and tablets will merge to form one powerful and flexible technology in the near future.
We can all relate to this tale with our own usage and consumption habits. Habits that are well documented by wide range of data and research. The question today is not so much of consumption but of the relationships these screens have in our lives, do we have different relationships with our different screens? Do we see them as all being the same or having different and distinct personalities? If we do have different relationships with the different screens then can we learn something about the content we provide and how to craft more relevant and therefore effective advertising?
This forms the thinking behind the Latest Global Insight study from Microsoft Advertising called “Meet the Screens”.
Thinking differently we decided to study the relationships between consumers and their screens, by using Jungian archetypes as a framework for defining this consumer-to-screen relationship. Carl Jung was a psychiatrist who developed 12 Jungian Archetypes based on mythical creatures. He believed that people have innate and universal representations that help them understand the world and their relationships with themselves and others. We see archetypes in many popular movies and books, including Star Wars (Yoda is a Wizard), Lord of the Rings (Frodo is an Everyman) and Harry Potter (Harry is a Hero).
The results showed that we do in fact relate to each screen in a unique way, the different emotional relationships we have with each screen dictates the manner in which content should reach us through the TV, PC and mobile phone.
The study found conclusive evidence of the different relationships we have with our screens that lead to a need for tailored content and commercial messaging.
· The TV is an old, reliable and entertaining friend … it is the Everyman and Jester that sits comfortably in the home and entertains and relaxes us. Despite consistent perceptions in the West, Russia and China are slightly less trusting of the TV, since viewers are more suspect of what were state-owned mediums.
· The PC is an older sibling, a Sage … it is someone to learn from, show off to, and compete with. It’s far more trusted than TV, especially in Eastern countries because they can control and choose the content on their PCs. Younger consumers like the versatility and greater engagement driven from PCs.
· The mobile is a Lover … It is the most personal device and something users feel physically and emotionally close to. They want it with them at all times. This is a relationship that is just beginning, and remarkably, it’s the most consistent across all age groups and geographies.
Understanding these archetypes and the relationships consumers have with their screens can make it easier for marketers to understand how best to create and adjust campaigns for relevancy on each device, leading to more effective advertising. Archetypes can also be utilized as guide to building successful multi screen campaigns.
The key questions advertisers should ask of their creativity and messaging are…
· For TV -does the message resonate in association with “the everyman?” Is it accessible, funny, and relaxing?
·For the PC – Does this message correspond to the personality of “the sage” or “older sibling?” Does it challenge the consumer, teach her something, allow her to show off or give her something to aspire to? Does it engage them in a two-way experience?
· For Mobile – Does this message resonate to “the lover?” Is it personal, intimate, surprising and does it make the consumer feel like he’s wanted and belongs to something (or someone)?
To bring a visual understanding of how this works in practice we worked with BBDO to showcase some examples of how best to create engaging advertising for each platform. Using real campaign it provides further understanding of the different ways to deliver effective commercial content.
I finish with some questions. How do my online habits compare to you? Do you have different relationships with the screens in your life? And do the archetypes identified in this study match them?
Tim Jones – Head of Insights and Analytics EMEA at Microsoft Advertising
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Interesting article Tim. I personally feel that yes the users have different behavior with different electronic items. I feel that yes mobile is like a lover to me without which I can't simply live. So these studies seem to be matching with me :)
Tim, thanks for the well written article. I am excited that our companies have the same vision. In my opinion, I do believe that users have a distinct relationship with their screens which are typically demonstrated by their bookmarks, favorites, likes, or even a retweet. Personally, my screens do not invoke any emotional response. It's just business.
Tim, thanks for the well written article. Although I am excited that our two companies, as partners, share the same vision for the different screens' device, i.e. hardware, technology, I do not agree with the key criteria questions for advertisers. Personally, my different screens do not invoke any emotional response. I have distinct different relationships with the various screens in my life. In my opinion, people do have an emotional connection with their screens through the active views of advertising. It's just business!