The number of screens we interact with depends on who you ask. While we, as marketers, would like to think tablets have already replaced couch laptops, the reality is that consumers today are more likely to be looking at their smartphones while watching TV.
Mobile devices may very well be the third or fourth screen, but that is assuming TV is the first one, and that assumption may be more wrong than right as screens converge and content follows.
In that context, it is difficult to develop proper multiscreen strategies, when ordinal numbering doesn't necessarily help us identify which specific device is being used by consumers and, most importantly, what is their current state of mind.
Another thing to consider is your definition of “screen”. The Pebble smartwatch, for example, is a wrist wearable device, small enough to be a used as a watch, but a sophisticated piece of technology capable of communicating with your iPhone or Android phone.
And it is breaking Kickstarter’s all time funding records, gathering almost $9 million so far, with still over a week to go.
But most importantly, it has gathered such a significant user base that it will be a viable development platform for content creators.
What about Nike’s Fuelband?
Granted, it has a more specific use and target audience, but the availability of an open API is another opportunity for content that adjusts not only to the size of the screen where the data is being presented, but experiences that are aware of the context in which the user is consuming that data and are designed to react and learn from her choices.
As more and more internet connected devices become part of a consumer’s ecosystem, keeping count of all those screens will become less relevant than establishing experience flows and delivery mechanisms that make it possible for consumers to have seamless experiences while transitioning between devices.
This is what screen convergence is all about. Consider the following scenario:
You may have been thinking about going away for the weekend for a while. As spring sets in, the weather is perfect to enjoy the outdoors. It is Friday night, and while watching TV with the family, you see a spot for a resort that is not more than four hours away from town, and suddenly you got it: road trip.
Shazam’s app listens to the commercial and brings you to the website on your tablet, where you can explore your options further, make reservations, and use the maps app to plan your route.
Once you select your destination and mark it on the map, you receive a warning: the car doesn’t have enough gas to get you all the way there. Acknowledging the message takes you back to the map, which now shows you a number of gas stations along your route and within range, as well as their current gas prices, reviews, etc. You choose one, and your route is recalculated automatically.
The next morning, when you get in the car, the GPS app on the dashboard has already loaded your route and you are ready to go, just as soon as everyone buckles up.
The value is not in maximizing “air time” on all screens, but in establishing relationships with consumers and by solving real life problems. The payoff will be significant for those who invest in solutions that not only cover the available screens but are able to anticipate the state of mind of the consumers interacting with them.
Are you ready to embrace the Nth screen?