It's a Wide Four-Screen World - Tire Review Magazine

It’s a Wide Four-Screen World

Sounds complicated, but reaching media-surrounded customers takes better planning.

Remember the good old days when Nielsen gathered television viewing ratings from various American families via a little set-top tracking box? These were the Nielsen Families that advertisers so desperately wanted to reach.

It was 1936 when founder Arthur C. Nielsen invested in his very first television-metering device, and at the time there were only a few hundred television sets in the entire world. Talk about seeing the future.

Today, Nielson continues to measure our TV watching habits, but their business model has been vastly expanded to include tracking user behavior on DVRs, PCs, tablets and other mobile devices.

The Four-Screen World
We are now living in a four-screen world – with television still very much in the mix and showing no signs of going away anytime soon. In fact, a large portion of media consumption is done via “companion viewing,” in which the television is the primary screen and the tablet or smartphone is secondary, allowing the viewer to log on to a website and/or social channel to converse in real time with other show watchers, creating a truly interactive experience.

Companion viewing represents a unique shift in behavior that should not be ignored since it guides us toward future trends and potential marketing opportunities. For example, let’s say you or one of your tire brands sponsor an event that is being broadcast on live TV. The live broadcast casts a wide net, reaching out to a vast audience.

If you’re aware of companion viewing habits, it would be wise to come up with a creative Twitter hashtag to be included on all your sponsorship materials so fans can interact with your tire dealership before, during and after the event.

A 24/7 Digital World

One would logically think that adding more ways for consumers to consume content would end up taking time away from one screen to another. Not so.

The proliferation of multiple devices per user has only resulted in more time spent with the devices. We know this, since we see people staring at their smartphone every time they have a free moment. We’ve become obsessed with staying connected, and you need to use this obsession to your advantage when it comes to marketing your dealership.

Our viewing habits are shared between screens, and they tend to follow a pattern:
Midnight – 7 a.m.: Mobile phones brighten the commute
7 a.m. – 5 p.m.: PCs dominate the workday
5 p.m. – Midnight: Tablets are popular at night

As a digital marketer, these facts immediately bring to mind ideas that text marketing will likely have the highest open/view rate early morning, email campaigns are best sent during the workday, and companion viewing is most likely occurring in the evening.

New Analytics Needed
Most of us are used to tracking website metrics and traffic patterns, but how does the use of multiple devices impact our trusted analytics program? The four-screen world has essentially tipped the analytics world on its head for a few reasons.

The traditional way to track a user on the web is to drop a small piece of code or a “cookie” on their machine after they have visited. The cookie then allows us to identify that user as a return visitor if and when they return. The cookie has been the mainstay for differentiating unique or first time visitors from return visitors. Here’s the problem – cookies are not people.

Think about this scenario; Joe Hotrod visits your dealership website to check out the latest tires for his Corvette and your analytics program tracks him as a unique or new visitor. Later, when he’s bored at work, he logs on to your website via his smartphone. But your analytics program doesn’t recognize the device, so it shows him in your report as a new, unique visitor – again.

It gets worse….Hotrod then tries to convince his girlfriend he must buy the tires today, so he logs on to her tablet to show her the awesome UHP he’s just gotta have. You guessed it – Hotrod is once again logged in your analytics program as a new or unique visitor! 

Oh, and let’s not forget apps. If you have a dealership app that is downloads it to his phone….yep, he is logged as a brand new customer.

Now, it’s not the worst thing in the world, sales are still being made and people are still being reached. But for the purposes of understanding what your online and mobile marketing investments are getting you, keep some of these analytic issues in mind.

Cross Platform Tracking
At the moment there are a few companies doing cross platform tracking successfully, one of them our old friend Nielsen, which is very much holding its own in the digital world. Here is how they describe their tracking processes:

“Our television meter provides an electronic snapshot of consumer viewing, our Internet user panels provide online audience metrics, and we’re using on-device meters to record interactions with smartphones and tablets. We’re also measuring how consumers engage with all of these devices together, taking the guesswork out of trying to figure out who and how many people watch your shows and see your commercials across TV and digital media.”

The closest competitor to Neilson is comScore, and it collects data in a similar fashion. Both companies offer free reports and whitepapers that are worth taking a look at so you can keep up to speed on the topic cross platform tracking in the digital world:


If I did my job here, this article has made you excited about the state of digital media consumption and you will continue from here thinking about ways you can capitalize upon it.

If I scared the living heck out of you, you’re in the wrong business.




Heather Blessington, CEO of Duo Web Solutions, is an accomplished blogger receiving press from CNN, USA Today, BBC and Forbes. Her company specializes in creating and managing blogs for powersports dealers. Contact Heather at [email protected]

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