All the Screens in Life: How We Relate to Tech

By Padmini Parthasarathy

Do you fall asleep with your phone by your pillow? Is your TV background noise? Do you avoid your laptop at night?

Each of our tech devices has a different personality—and our relationship is unique with each. A new book by Microsoft advertising mavens Natasha Hritzuk and Kelly Jones explores how we relate to each of the screens in our lives. "Multiscreen Marketing: The Seven Things You Need to Know to Reach Your Customers across TVs, Computers, Tablets, and Mobile Phones" compares each screen to a Jungian archetype. Hritzuk is the Senior Director of Global Consumer Insights, and Jones leads the Global Thought Leadership Research Program within the Consumer Insights and Marketing Group—and Microsoft is letting them share what they've learned. 

Although the book is primarily concerned with how advertisers use these devices, it contains revelations of interest to those of us who are not Chief Marketing Officers.  

For one thing, not all screens are equal. Some are cuddlier than others. Some you just take more seriously. 

Hritzuk and Jones argue that advertisers need to start thinking about how we interact with different devices, and develop marketing techniques that reflect these interactions. "Right now we’re taking the paradigm of a 30-second spot and applying it to digital, but with digital, we have the scope to advertise using far more creative ways. We need to start thinking about how to make things easier for decision-makers," says Hritzuk. Our interactions with these different devices could lead to softer advertising than we’re used to. Instead of intrusive banners and pre-video spots, we might actually encounter ads that help us make decisions. They might even be fun to play around with. The good part for us consumers is that ads won't bother us as much as they used to. Maybe they'll even be helpful.

Think about how you interact with the different screens in your life. Do these archetypes make sense to you?

The Television – "The Jester/Everyman"

When we kick off our shoes and curl onto the couch with a glass of wine for some TV, we are mostly looking for passive entertainment. We don’t want to be too intellectually challenged after a long day. Whether flat or not, that screen is like audiovisual wallpaper.

Advertisers are most accustomed to this medium, where intuitive messaging is key. Commercials just wash over us, and we absorb them without too much thought. The most effective ad for television is the 30-second spot. 

The PC – "The Sage"

We turn to the computer for information. It is an educator, a library, and an encyclopedia. Most of us work on our computers and associate them with productivity. They are all work and very little play.  

A successful ad campaign would be one that appealed to our logic. How much money would we save in the long run if we switched banks? Ads that use infographics would go far on a PC.

The Mobile Phone – "The Lover"

We keep a lot of personal things on our phones. It is our connection to our loved ones, our daily schedules, photos, and music. Neurological experiments have even indicated that our brains react the same way to our phones as they do to our loved ones.

Apps that double as advertising have been especially successful because it’s something we opt into. Banner ads and anything perceived as intrusive tends to rub consumers the wrong way. Also, mobility is key. Think about choosing between two brands of shampoo at the drugstore. The brand that allows us to key in the product code, leading to customer reviews and expert opinions, might make the decision easier (and nudge us towards choosing their product).

The Tablet – "The Explorer"

The tablet is most likely to be a shared household device, rather than a personal tool. People pass it around to watch videos, explore, and play games. We use our phones to do some of this, but the screen is too small, and most computers don’t have the tactile interactivity. Tablets facilitate voyages of discovery.

Any sort of interactive advertising that we could touch and play with works well. "Homeland" came out with an app that was activated via a simulated thumb scan that lead users to character videos, bios, and behind-the-scenes footage. They could also use the app to send encrypted emails to their friends, CIA-style.  

 

Images:

"Device landscape" by Jeremy Keith via flickr cc

"Evening watching television" by flash.pro via  flickr cc

"Cockpit poser" by Martin Terber via flickr cc,

"Close up of friends using smartphones" by Abd Allah Foteih flickr cc

"iPad stand" by Veronica Belmon via, flickr cc