Multiscreen Experiences: getting devices to work together

K N A R F & m a f i a in Vienna

We’re spending more time with a growing array of increasingly capable digital devices as the figures from Ofcom demonstrate below:

Household take-up of digital communications/ AV devices, 2003-2013

We have seen web services (eg Office 365, Google Docs, Slingbox) become increasingly device agnostic, allowing users to readily switch from phone to tablet to PC with experiences optimising for each device.

With the emergence of the Internet of Things, we are also beginning to see smartphones and tablets  increasingly become the hub for a broad range of devices (eg smart homes, digital televisions, self tracking tools).

The marketing sector has increasingly moved to deliver marketing experiences that adapt to the different screen real estate as well as enabling a range of digital response channels (Twitter, Facebook, microsite etc) for more traditional media.

Millward Brown in the report Digital & Media Predictions 2014 talks about the emergence of multiscreen experiences, point to ‘Shifting’ and ‘Meshing’ with experiences that combine  different screens sequentially or simultaneously.

It’s in campaigns where we have the meshing of devices with simultaneous content that we’ve seen interesting innovations emerging, with the ability to deliver more immersive experiences rather than simply providing a response channel. Where we’re beginning to see this commonly used is in the integration of PCs with smartphones or tablets.

Google has been a pioneer with this approach with its Chrome Experiments programme with examples including Arcade Fire’s Just a Reflektor video  and Roll It.

These experiences can change smartphones and tablets into touch screen controllers with their in built accelerometers enabling richer range of interactions than those provided by PCs keyboard and mouse.

This sought of approach is not going to work in all situations.  The process of synchronising PCs with smartphones poses technical challenges and essentially adds an additional obstacle for users before they can experience the content.

Producers need to create experiences that minimise the friction in getting two devices working together, not always easy given the wide range of PCs, smartphones and tablets. Consumers on the other hand are being asked to actively interact with the experience, a sometimes difficult ask, particularly for low interest brands.

Orange tried it over the New Year period but provided an experience that in my opinion fell flat. Little Dragon tried a less ambitious approach with their music video for Klapp Klapp with phone calls received by the viewer that synchronises with the on screen video.

Little Dragon Klapp Klapp

We will no doubt see more of this going forward with predictions that half of all campaigns will be multiscreen in the USA by 2016 according to a survey reported on in MediaPost. The emergence of a growing array of other digital devices (smartwatches, exercise trackers, augmented reality headsets etc) similarly presents further opportunities to deliver more immersive experiences. 

If you know of any interesting multiscreen campaigns, drop a note in the comments field.

The featured image is K N A R F & m a f i a piece from Vienna.

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