Multi-Tasking Makes Multi-Channel Marketing More ImportantAt the Technology Council of Southern California awards dinner, Tony Perkins (founder of AlwaysOn and Red Herring, the latter – full disclosure time – for which I wrote after he\’d sold it) gave the keynote. He argued that in trying to reach youths, the Web is much more important than TV or any other youth-beloved media. The accompanying short film he played was entertaining and cute, showing pre-teens candidly talking about their preference for all things online, but I thought that he\’d missed one crucial point:

Internet users are multitaskers.

This is an important fact. Internet activities can be – and often are – done at the same time as other things, like watching TV. Therefore, marketers shouldn\’t just engage in online campaigns – email messaging, ads on Web sites, social networking, in-game ads, and the like – while ignoring the rest. It makes sense to present one\’s message everywhere the consumer looks – such as advertising on both TV and the Internet, as well as engaging in permission-based messaging campaigns.

And two recent reports prove it.

The research firm Grunwald Associates LLC says that 64 percent of youths ages 9 to 17 go online while they watch TV, and 74 percent are \”active multitasking\” – that is, one medium influences concurrent behavior in another. Note that 33 percent of those surveyed said they participated in online polls, contests, games, and other activities as directed by the TV show they were currently watching.

Multitasking isn\’t just a trend among young consumers. The research firm Harris Interactive, in a survey commissioned by blinkx, found that 78 percent of U.S. adults go online while watching TV; 35 percent do so \”often or always.\” A quarter of them go online for information related to the show they are watching – such as upcoming events or products/services that appeared on, or were advertised during, the program.

Plus, according to both reports, kids and grownups alike tend to interact with others online – such as send each other emails – in order to discuss what they\’re seeing on TV.

So while the Internet is increasingly important for marketers who want to reach all demographics, it\’s just as important not to ignore other media. For example, use SMS to engage consumers who like to participate in contests or polls as directed by their favorite TV show. Or, since people like to discuss their favorite show via email and other online messaging, marketers can send fans viral messages – perhaps an email with a link to an exclusive online video related to the program – which can then be forwarded to fans\’ friends.

Indeed, the nature of the multi-channel marketing campaign fits perfectly with the nature of the multitasking consumer.

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
\”I\’d rather you text me\”