Chapter 2Meet the People behind the Screens

Market to Your Customers, Not to Their Devices

When we first formed the Consumer Insights team and started meeting with brands and agencies, one of the questions that came up repeatedly was whether it was okay to take an advertisement made for television and stream it across different screens. Most customers recognized the importance of expanding beyond television, but balked at the complexity and expense of creating different campaigns for the computer, mobile phone, and tablet. Or they simply didn’t know where to start. Wearing our pragmatist hats, it seemed like a sensible thing to prioritize having a presence on multiple screens, even with a repurposed television advertisement. Being absent from the digital space wasn’t a great option, and at least people would see the campaign and take in the message within the context of each different screen. But in our guts, we knew that this was a pretty blunt approach and overlooked some basic lessons we’d learned over the years.

First, you can’t assume that consumers see televisions, computers, mobile phones, and tablets as interchangeable. Although we do some of the same things across these devices—watch video or search—you would never just swap out your mobile for your laptop. Each screen fulfills different needs in our lives, which made us realize that maybe these needs are worth paying attention to.

Second, the one-size-fits-all-screens approach elevates devices over content. Any creative ...

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