Last month, we discussed the intersection of data and creative. We posited that due to the shifts in media buying behavior toward programmatic, creative agencies need to infuse their message with the same audience data points. In a similar vein, today we want to discuss another shift in user behavior - the shift to multi-screen consumption - and focus on its impact on creative development.
So let’s start by asking a question: What device are you reading this article on? According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, there’s a 50 percent chance that you’re on a smartphone.i In fact, research shows that 91 percent of Americans now own a cell phone, and 63 percent of cell phone owners use their phone to go online.ii This means that almost half of all Americans surf the Web with their mobile devices – a number that cannot be ignored particularly in light of the ad experiences these users currently receive on these devices. Where once ads were delivered to one, or perhaps two screens, the norm now is a very different story.
As more consumers engage in a multi-device culture, it is becoming increasingly common to find someone simultaneously texting, surfing the Web, watching a YouTube video and taking pictures on multiple devices…all at once. In fact, a study conducted by Google earlier this year revealed that our time online is spread between four media devices – TV, computer, tablet and smartphone – and 90 percent of all media interactions are screen based.iii Not surprisingly, for the last three years we have seen a 90 percent spike each quarter in dollars spent on mobile advertising.iv This cross-screen multi-tasking provides an opportunity for brands to augment their TV campaigns with experiences on these other screens, providing multiple touch points for a user in a condensed time.
The new digital canvas
What does this rise in the second, third and fourth screen mean for creatives? The multi-screen world provides an exciting new canvas to execute creative strategies, and a new set of tools offers unparalleled ability to do so. Whereas previously developers were largely dependent on Flash, which was not supported on every browser and device, today they can now use HTML5, which has emerged as the new standard for Web content and digital advertising. The biggest advantage of HTML5 is that you can build an ad once and run it everywhere – HTML5 is compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet browsers, allowing brands to create a single visual that works across all screens, rather than having to create multiple versions for each screen and operating system.
Consumers interact with smartphones in different ways than they do with their desktop -- they touch, shake, and tilt the screens, they take pictures and videos, make phone calls, and generally use these devices in much more personal ways. So positioning brands on these highly personal screens allows advertisers to provide a very different interactive experience than they can on desktop.
But what’s holding creatives back?
Thankfully, we’re seeing this status quo start to change with the introduction of HTML5 tools that reduce some of the complexity and allow creatives to focus on design and innovation instead. Tools such as Google Web Designer, Adobe Edge Animate, and Celtra put design at the forefront, streamline the coding process, and make it simple to build servable HTML5 ad units with full ad tags and reporting metrics baked in. While this is a good start, we still need to work together as an industry to develop standards and tools that bring multi-screen creative into the foreground.
One Idea, Any Screen
You may recall that in our second article, we discussed ways to create beautiful and engaging ads on smaller screens. HTML5 enables creatives to deliver a seamless, interactive experience that spans across multiple screen sizes and platforms. Taking into account various device capabilities such as touchscreen, HTML5 allows creatives to truly think outside the box. For example, Burberry used HTML5 to create the “Burberry Kiss” campaign, which allows users to “capture” kisses using the built-in camera on their device and “dress them up” with a Burberry lipstick color of their choice. On mobile phones and tablets, where capturing info through the camera wasn’t feasible, the agency took advantage of the devices’ form factors and “captured” the kiss through touch points on the screen. In all cases, HTML5 enabled Burberry to build a single, interactive experience, while taking advantage of the elements inherent in each device.
As highlighted by Burberry, the key to an effective creative campaign is the experience – how did the viewer feel after engaging with the ad? When you’re reaching out to an audience that regularly jumps back and forth between screens, this type of coherent experience can be hard to build. HTML5 and the “one idea, any screen” model enables an agency to transform a single creative message or insight into something that works on any form-factor, melting away limitations of browser and device compatibility. Ubisoft accomplished this feat as well in their digital campaign for the launch of Assassin’s Creed III. By bringing the story of the game’s characters to life through an interactive ad campaign, the company was not only able to build a connection between the game and the viewer regardless of the device they were using, but also generate buzz that ultimately led to a successful launch.
Mobile and multi-screen are becoming the new playground for advertisers. Research conducted by the IAB revealed that one in five marketers expect to increase their mobile spend by more than 50 percent over the next two years, and we can only expect that spend to be heavily focused on innovative, cross-screen workvi. HTML5 is going to be the bridge that enables brands to create seamless stories and experiences across all screens and ultimately elevate the engagement of users on those screens.
i: Pew Internet: Cell Internet Use 2013, Sep. 16, 2013 <http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Cell-Internet.aspx> http://goo.gl/Z0dvb4 <http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Cell-Internet.aspx>
ii: Pew Internet: Mobile Statistics, Sep. 18, 2013. http://goo.gl/dljEcR<http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/February/Pew-Internet-Mobile.aspx>
iii: Google Research, “The New Multi-Screen World.” Aug. 2012, <http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/#lang=en-us&study=18&topic=33> http://goo.gl/eViRTg <http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/#lang=en-us&study=18&topic=33>
iv: <http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/unlocking-html5-opportunity.html> Interactive Advertising Bureau, IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, April 2013
v: Google Research, “Unlocking the HTML5 opportunity: What’s the Holdup?” Sep. 2013 http://goo.gl/Zli6XX
vi: IAB Study, Sep. 24, 2013 <http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/pr-092413> http://goo.gl/Y0UOFY <http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/pr-092413>