The evolution of the internet, the virality of social media, the changing (content) consumption habits of the millennial consumers and a plethora of digital channels has necessitated brands to use the digital route to effectively engage their consumers. Until recently, television, radio and print remained preferred, popular and convenient mediums of communication in order to reach a wider consumer base. Today the explosion of other screen-based devices has turned consumers into multi-screen viewers. These multi-screen experiences are both sequential and simultaneous; users shift from one device to another in pursuit of information and engage with all available screens for the same task – often, starting a search on a smart phone, moving to the desktop, and eventually winding up with a tablet.
The challenges posed by the multi-screen era
The age of multiplicity of screens (whose conduits have been iPads, Tablets, Mobile Phones, PCâ€™s and laptops) not only provides advertisers with wider opportunities to engage and influence consumers, but also poses challenges that must be considered. For instance, in the case of something as basic as an application or â€˜Appâ€™ in common nomenclature, the existence of multiple channels has necessitated that there is a consistent experience across devices it is consumed on. Furthermore, since users expect similar content engagement experience across platforms, providing this sort of consistency is one of the challenges. It has therefore become essential to have ‘responsive sites’ which can adapt to multiple screens and provide users with a consistent user experience.
The challenges to provide a unified brand experience is further augmented by the confusing landscape of technologies and approaches.Â To counter this, brands must make sound decisions about the choice of delivery strategies, quality of content, and remember, the mere existence of a platform does not necessitate brand presence.
Measurement is another challenge. Though there is enormous and expanding ability to measure interaction, what constitutes real engagement, the right ways to quantify are different to different groups, and the ability to track cross-device use is still not something done effectively at scale.
At ESPNcricinfo we continuously monitor our traffic data, audience preferences of content experience and use these analytics as key ammunition to build strategies for our products and content. Across ESPNâ€™s global businesses, the company has also spent enormous effort to research and study the behavior of sports fans â€“ in different places, situations, and across a huge array of demographic groups.
This has led us to a belief in what we call the â€œbest available screenâ€ theory. It centres on the idea that sports is truly unique content.Â People are extremely passionate about it, and it is uniquely personal to them. It also means that a sports fan will seek that content on whatever the â€œbest available screenâ€ is at any point (indeed, multiple points) throughout the day.
We believe content is key and the screen is the most convenient means by which the fan can connect to that content. That is why we are absolutely devoted to providing the very best content, and then offering an experience with that content across multiple devices, while at the same time customizing offerings based on specific screens. In addition an essential cornerstone of our strategy is consistency in our positioning and overall brand promise. This is especially important in the current age of instant gratification.
The overall mission at ESPN is â€œTo serve sports fans anytime, anywhereâ€. At ESPNcricinfo we ensure we are aligned to this and our offerings have a promise of quality, authority and personality which our consumers can connect with.
The surge in in digital content consumption, especially video, the impact of social media platforms and the continued explosion of mobile, were significant developments in the digital space in 2014. The pace of change is going to only accelerate and organisations in this space need to constantly innovate to ensure the brand stays relevant in this changing landscape.