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Your smartphone is a computer. And your TV too

It’s time to think of all our devices as computers now

Bob is not your uncle

In 1995, Microsoft introduced a desktop interface that would prove to be its most bizarre failure. Simply named ‘Bob’, the program replaced files and folders with a virtual living room, complete with an animated dog named Rover and a playful new font called Comic Sans. Surely it would be more intuitive to click on a cartoon desk than to use abstract icons and menus?

Bob was a fiasco. Clicking a virtual desk felt awkward, no matter how many times Rover explained how to use it. Microsoft underestimated how receptive people were to a digital world and how quickly they would adapt to it. People wanted a computer in their living room, not a living room in their computer.

Microsoft released Windows 95 just five months later. In the waves of innovation that followed, consumers would embrace technology almost as quickly as it evolved. Soon there was more than one computer in the living room.

Consider our smartphones. A smartphone isn’t a phone, it is a computer. And our televisions? They are computers too. Most of the video content we watch is handled by software running on a large-screen computer that we call a smart TV. The televisions we use today are descendants of RealNetworks, not RCA.

Why do I need to point this out? Because we still have marketers trying to put the living room in the computer, instead of the computer in the living room. They create stale experiences, rely on outdated metaphors and think of every device as a world in itself. Like Microsoft, they risk underestimating how quickly we can embrace technology, and will miss opportunities to connect with consumers in the moments they feel most empowered.

Experience by design

It’s time to think of all our devices as computers now. We might prefer different computers for different scenarios, but we expect that our computers work together and provide us with a seamless experience. Thankfully it is a challenge easily met. Consumer demand hastened the technical innovations that make it possible. Device graphs enable cohesive messaging across screens without the need for cookies. Every computer in a household is digitally addressable, targetable and offers some level of interactivity.

With this perspective, it becomes clear how many shortcuts our industry is guilty of. For example, many ads on streaming services are indistinguishable from their broadcast counterparts. Connected TV should not be viewed as just a variation of linear TV for digital marketers. Streaming technology enables household targeting, localization, adaptive content and even QR codes. We’ve seen advertisers include neighborhood maps, dynamic pricing and creative that reflects the time of day or even the weather.

Streaming is an ideal way for advertisers to begin a lasting brand relationship. That big-screen, immersive experience is a natural for establishing awareness and association. We found that consumers were 2.5 times more likely to remember a brand advertised on the big screen than any other medium. But if your efforts stop there, it’s like saying hello and then walking away. Our research shows that following a CTV impression with a desktop ad has brand opinion jump by a third on average.

Web advertising is newer than television, but can somehow feel more archaic. Many campaigns still echo the Netscape era with short-loop animation and click-based incentives. Browser-based ads today can be expandable, interactive and include video content. The best are essentially small, responsive websites in themselves, integrating reviews, product options, image galleries and other information.

On the web, consumers lean forward. They’re curious, open-minded, and motivated. Streaming ads prompt inspiration, but they need to be followed by browser-based ads facilitating exploration. For carefully considered purchases such as travel, auto and even mattresses, we’ve seen purchase intent more than double when CTV impressions are followed by interactive web impressions.

The ‘Halo Effect’

Put together, we call these recommendations the ‘Halo Effect’.

A brand halo is earned by a marketing strategy that includes every screen in the house. A halo forms when computers are used to their full potential and in synchronicity with each other. Having your campaign meet each moment in a consumer journey means planning for consistent, responsive messaging across experiences that are adapted for each screen.

This needn’t feel overwhelming. Technology has gifted us amazing opportunities. Better yet, consumers welcome us on the other side of the screen. We’ve found that cross-screen campaigns outperform on every measure of brand opinion. A majority of respondents in a recent study rated these holistic campaigns as being more relevant, informative and engaging than single-channel efforts.

Where is your halo? Closer than you think.

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