We Are A Nation Of Multi-Taskers And Multi-Screeners (Part I)

We are a nation of multi-taskers. As you read this, you’re either doing something else, or this is the “something else” you’re doing while you work on other projects or relax in front of another device.

Not only are we multi-taskers, we’re also multi-screeners. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, PC/laptop, TV or some other device, we’re consuming, creating, and curating content across multiple devices, often at the same time. It seems that we’re rewiring our brains simply by how we interact with content and devices as part of our everyday lives.

As we become increasingly wired…or wireless, that leaves room for two types of people in this world: Those who are always-on and those who are at least always connected. I’ve long maintained that the net result of connectedness is a narrowing attention span. I don’t necessarily believe that attention is as much distracted as it is focused on what’s important in the moment. As such, businesses are simply trying to reach an audience or audience segments, but instead an audience with an audience of audiences that is interconnected by shared interests and experiences.

How you design, sell, market, and serve will require nothing short of complete transformation over the next 10 years. This is true in not only how you engage connected customers but employees as well. It’s a lifestyle, and as businesses, we must become connected to earn relevance. If we don’t, then we earn just the opposite, irrelevance. I refer to this transitory economic state as Digital Darwinism, when technology and society evolve faster than the ability to adapt.

So what does this multi-tasking multi-screen audience with an audience of audiences look like you ask? In August 2012, Google released a telling report, “The New Multiscreen World” that reveals the extent of cross platform consumer behavior.

The study offers an awakening glimpse into the impact of connected consumerism and how it forces a shift in the future of customer engagement. In short, your customer base is fragmented. Just showing up in new channels and creating website-like presences in social networks isn’t enough. Designing apps or creating digital assets for mobile devices is only part of the solution. Without a vision, without an articulation of the overall experience and how customer engagement takes shape in each channel and as a whole, any work you do may hurt more than it helps.

 What does the multi-screen world look like today?

We Are a Nation of Multi-Taskers and Multi-Screeners-1

According to Google’s research, 90% of all media interactions are screen-based, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs. On average, consumers spend 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of these screens every day. On the contrast, only 10% of all media interactions are non-screen based. The victims of this attention shift come as no surprise; radio, newspapers, and magazines were threatened long ago.

We Are a Nation of Multi-Taskers and Multi-Screeners (Part I)




The four screens are becoming equal in how they lure our attention. In each sitting or interaction, time spent on each device isn’t that far apart.

  • TV – 43 minutes
  • PC/Laptop – 39 minutes
  • Tablet – 30 minutes
  • Smartphone – 17 minutes

Not only are consumers spending a significant amount of time on these devices outside of work, but they are doing so at the same time as well. And, once “king of the living” room, the idea of a TV is evolving too. Programs, how they’re watched, and when viewing take place will undergo a significant transformation over the next several years. This will be fueled primarily by an evolution in behavior and how Generation-C blurs the lines between the screens in what they consume, create, and curate. Eventually content will not only freely traverse devices, but content and strategies also will inspire design within each channel and as holistic multi-channel experiences.

What does this evolution toward multiple screens and devices mean to your business? Are you integrating this shift in customer behavior into your marketing and customer support strategies?

Brian Solis is the author of the new book, The End of Business as Usual. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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