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Understanding your audience one screen at a time

Understanding your audience one screen at a time Heather Sundell

It seems as though our lives revolve around screens in way or another. Whether we're watching television, working on laptops, playing with tablets, futzing with smartphones, or even doing all four at once, it's hard to ignore our nation's growing dependence on screen time. This is by no means is a new conversation; you can't swing a chic laptop bag without hitting five articles about the second-screen phenomenon.

That said, now that we're all aware of this eyeball shift, what are we going to do about it? Marketing and advertising have to follow suit, but with the increased number of devices and communication channels, campaigns need to be a little more strategic. It's not so much about quantity, but quality. As we begin a new year, it's time to for advertisers to invest in tactical targeting instead of volume.

Who's looking at what device, at what time of day, and most importantly, what are they doing?

Tracking the swing toward mobile and tablet for some time now, The Search Agency was interested in diving deeper to discover answers to those questions in order to better inform advertising and marketing campaigns. Here's what we learned:


All adults must experience major pangs of jealousy when they see a toddler wielding around a new iPad like it's an Etch-A-Sketch. It's no surprise to see children being pacified when you know that married people hold the majority in tablet ownership at 45 to 36 percent, compared to single people. Makes sense though, right? Having a second screen becomes more of a priority when there's a second person. Tablet purchases are still considered "unnecessary" for a single person who already owns a computer. However, it's the perfect compromise for a married couple who doesn't need an extra computer but would like a second screen.


Whether you're an Android or Apple loyalist, chances are you've got a smartphone. We're quickly becoming a heads down society, which means as an advertiser, you need to follow your customer's eyeballs. Not really surprising, people are turning to their smartphones for information even when they have a computer within an arm's length away. Mobile habits are trumping computer behaviors. Also not too shocking, most smartphone purchases are made at night. However, it's probably safe to say that there's still a lot of mobile browsing happening during the day with "9 to 5ers" not wanting to shop on their work computers. In other words, don't halt your daytime campaigns just yet.


Speaking of workday shopping habits, one audience's attention you will still catch during the 9 to 5 hours is Millenials. By now it's common knowledge that Millenials have a particular fluidity to their personal and professional lives. They may Gchat, tweet, and browse flash sale sites for a chunk of the day, but they are also the ones working late or at home. Millenials typically don't have families so their time is much more flexible. However, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who didn't grow up with a keyboard in their hands are still a little more rigid about the lines they draw between their work and home lives. Your best bet is to catch them at night after the kids go to bed, or after dinner.

Our dependence on staying connected for both work and play -- coupled with the rise of mobile and tablet devices -- has caused our online behavior to bleed into our offline selves. With information being devoured at a higher volume than ever, traditional advertising just isn't going to cut it. How many people use a second screen while simultaneously watching a television? Advertisers should be doing more specific research on their customers behavior on and offline, and budget accordingly.

Click here to view the entire research report.

Heather Sundell is marketing manager of The Search Agency.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Multiscreen" image via Shutterstock.

Heather has five years of experience in online and offline marketing. As the Marketing Manager for The Search Agency, she can frequently be found tweeting from @thesearchagency or writing articles for the company blog and other...

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