For marketers it used to be a lot easier. Only a few years ago there was basically television and either laptop or PC computers and, on those three devices, they would engage with the vast majority of the population. It was exceedingly rare for a user to be engaged with more than one device at the same time.

Boy, how times have changed.

Today’s advertisers realize that their customers are spread out all over the place and, as a result of this, they’ve been rapidly expanding their efforts to reach them wherever they happen to be, mostly by analyzing their behavior and engagement patterns as they happen.

Emerging trends like “second screening”, where a user is watching TV and using their smart phone at the same time, are forcing advertisers to come up with a wide range of new advertising techniques, explains Adam Kapel of AdAge.

How to engage with a fragmented user base

The fact is that it’s getting harder than ever to reach consumers through traditional marketing because of the fact that their viewing habits are so fragmented on different devices and their viewing behavior so random.

What’s being recommended by industry analysts is that, rather than clustering around static interests like ‘sports’ or ‘news’, advertisers should look for smaller, trendier and more quickly occurring (and disappearing) opportunities to brand themselves.

The recent World Cup is a fine example. The small-ish storylines caused by specific coaches, players and ‘incidents’, which waxed and waned every single day, offered many opportunities for brands to present themselves and target users in their core audience in almost real time.

Yes, this means keeping constant tabs and having a constant eye on developing stories and trends but, if done correctly, the resulting engagement can be phenomenal.

The one drawback to these new advertising operations is that they aren’t static and present quite a challenge for capturing any type of analytical profile. Today’s biting story fades quickly as tomorrow’s superhuman goal-keeping story emerges, no doubt.

On the other hand, there’s never been a better way to discover something new about your target audience than to take an intimate look at what they care about most, while they still care about it.