Marketing To The Four Screen Generation


Google performed a study not long ago to better understand how today’s consumers are utilizing their many devices. They found that around 90% of all of our media consumption, or 4.4 hours per day, is happening across four screens. Not only does this reveal the little attention given to traditional print media or terrestrial radio, but it opens our eyes to how important smartphones and tablets are becoming.

Computers, televisions, phones and tablets. On any given day, we communicate, research and are entertained by two, three or perhaps all four of these technologies. Just ten years ago, things were far different. Heck, marketers were just finally starting to understand and excel on the Internet. But today, smartphones and tablets are becoming so popular that brands must adjust their campaigns in order to accommodate. What’s interesting too is that the revolution does not discriminate – this means non-profits, B2B and B2C marketers should all be taking notes.


Some consumers use each device in isolated experiences but many of us are using two or more screens at the same time. Perhaps you’ve fallen into the trap without even realizing it.

– Have you ever tweeted from your smartphone while watching a television show? Many shows leave permanent hashtags in the upper left hand corner of the screen to get users chatting online.
– Have you done work from your laptop while listening to music from your tablet? Terrestrial radio might be dead, but streaming audio stations are alive and kicking. Pandora,, Spotify are all great working to win your attention.
– While you’re watching the football game, do you take breaks to play Temple Run 2? Sports events are unique in that most people do not DVR them since they are live. But commercial breaks often send people to other devices during those two to three minutes of downtime.

Hopefully, you’re starting to see some of the opportunities available to you to get involved on the digital front. It’s a brand’s dream to obtain impressions on multiple formats since it usually leads to more conversions. Okay, so how does one go about doing this then? This four-screen analysis not only changes that way content is designed but also how marketers are leveraging their messaging across multiple devices.

Responsive Design

Unfortunately, I’m not a developer or web designer so I can’t get into the nitty gritty details of how this should be executed. But I can tell you that responsive design, which reformats across multiple devices, is the most effective strategy today. We’ve all been on our smartphones and landed on a site that wasn’t formatted properly and immediately left. Let’s be honest, no one likes to pinch, squeeze and scroll around on a little screen. These bounces are killing your potential sales so something must be done. There are hundreds of phone brands, tablets, computer screen sizes, etc on the market today. To avoid the costly project of developing unique sites and pages for each, responsive design is the best solution. Have a clean design that still fits your brand’s personality and voice and make it useful across all formats. Your mobile audience might soon become your most important audience.

Integrated Messaging

During prime time hours, Twitter is buzzing with talk about what people are currently watching. This ADD mindset has brands continually being discussed on all platforms at all times. People are talking about commercials too! If your brand isn’t present, you are missing a huge opportunity. When developing a marketing plan, make sure to implement tactics that touch on all devices. Have your website looking consistent on all channels and social sites, regardless of the device being used. Run a commercial that sends users to the web. Include forums on your website for people to get involved by sending messages or photos and consider including that consumer-generated content in your next advertising campaign. Run mobile search or in-game ads on smartphones and tablets to promote the latest product showcased on your website. This four-screen philosophy is a major extension of social media and two-way communication. Adapt your marketing plans to continue focusing on conversations with your consumers. A great question to ask when developing a marketing piece is whether it will be equally effective on each screen.

Coke Case Study

Blogger Jeffrey Rohrs posted a wonderful infographic after the Super Bowl that documented how commercials were integrating their digital campaigns. Did you know that of the 126 commercials, 53% included a URL and 33% included a hashtag? Very low if you ask me, but the ones who did take advantage were the ones who know what they are doing and probably are now seeing the highest return.

One specific ad during the Super Bowl that stands out to me is the Coke Chase ad. In the spot, several groups on different forms of transportation are in the middle of the desert chasing a giant bottle of Coke. The spot concludes with a call to action for directing users tovote for the winner.

If you visited the site that evening, you would have had the ability to vote while seeing a timeline of tweets from users talking about each of the different groups using hashtags. Did I mention that the site was mobile friendly on both smartphone and tablet?

I’m a firm believer in web metrics to better understand your customers’ web habits to be more strategic in your marketing efforts. However, if you currently do not have a mobile site and you haven’t tested any mobile marketing tactics, then you might not be aware of what you are missing. Each device today should be thought of as its own form of mass media. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t forget to include a print or radio spot in your marketing plan, would you? Just the same today, marketers should be present and effective on all four screens. I firmly believe that smartphones and tablets will soon be more important that desktop and laptop computers. Make sure your brand is ready for the changes coming soon!