Guru Review: The Third Screen

Mobile has transformed the way we live our lives, and how we do business. Check out the latest Guru Review breaking down Chuck Martin's latest book on the topic.
May 17, 2011

A few days ago, I was actively engaged in what has become my morning ritual: scanning the various RSS feeds or updates through apps I have on my iPhone, reading what piques my interest, and tweeting what grabs my attention and what I think is important and will be of interest to my network. I do this every weekday, irrespective of where I am in the world. On this particular day, I looked up from my screen and had one of those moments where the weight of change comes crashing down on you like a bucket of icewater.

I was surrounded by my wife and two of my daughters, one not yet 10 and the other just out of college. They were both immersed in a mobile screen, one on an iPad playing "Angry Birds," and the other on an iPod watching a music video. My wife was on her iPhone, Facebooking.

Two years ago, the scene was completely different: I had three newspapers in front of me, my youngest daughter was watching SpongeBob on TV, and my wife was reading Vogue.

I realized we had become what author Chuck Martin refers to as "untethered consumers" in his new book, The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile.

The first screen was television, the second screen was the personal computer, and the third screen is the mobile device. I am, as is my family, addicted to a third screen. Rarely do I use the computer for anything other than writing...everything is on my iPhone. I became "thumbidextrous" in no time. We have multiple "third screens" in the house: smartphones, Kindles, iPads.

This third screen is, as Martin points out, the present and the future. It is profoundly changing human behavior, a force which in turns holds many significant implications for companies.

Big Idea:

The third screen—the mobile device—changes the rules entirely by creating a completely “untethered consumer,” free from the constraints of traditional broadcast or online communication, who can search on the move and share information with other customers in real time. This new breed of customer is in charge—they are plugged in, always on, and completely in control in a way that changes the fundamental assumptions of marketing and customer service.

Key Takeaways:

First, realize how mobile is unique:

It's personal. The mobile phone is an individual's device, not shared like a computer or watched in a group like television.

Multifaceted communication capability. The smartphone uses almost all the senses in either input or output.

Time, location, and supply and demand. While supply and demand have always been determinable, mobile adds time and location to the mix.

The standing up medium. Mobile removes all the content consumption constraints of previous media--the untethered consumer is not stationary or sitting down.

Installed base. Market penetration is nearing 100 percent. Nine out of 10 people in the U.S. have a mobile phone.

Call-to-action capability. The customer has the phone, it's on, and the customer's mindset can be determined based on factors including time and location—so companies can issue on-the-spot calls to action.

Customer-centric. In a world gone mobile, the customer is in the driver's seat.

Second, understand the mobile end game—the fundamental traits of the mobile landscape that offer companies new opportunities:

One-to-one advantage. The third screen will forever transform the concept of one-to-one marketing in terms of how a company talks to its customers. The opportunity is to conduct what Martin calls "momentary marketing." For example, a bricks and mortar business can price-match competitors via mobile offers while the customer is on the premises.

Platforms win. Platforms facilitate marketing and transactions, and allow many businesses and customers to join in and participate.

Less is more. Businesses need to "think small." It's not about small ideas but about quick, focused delivery. People consume mobile content in small, short bites while on the go.

The mobile "chicken and the egg." Mobile will drive mobile. As more people get smartphones, more features will be used, driving the creation of yet more features, which will lead to more adoption by more people.

Liked Most:

This is an extremely well-researched book. The strategies and tactics are derived from dozens of in-depth studies and interviews that provide numerous real-world examples. The robustness of the research alone makes this book an invaluable asset to the marketer.

Best For:

I don't think anyone in business can ignore this book. Businesses have already adjusted to reaching consumers in the digital world, but connecting with them in a mobile world requires a new set of principles and best practices. Marketers and businesspeople who don’t understand the untethered consumer risk becoming obsolete.

What People Are Saying:

“Chuck Martin has more than all the facts. He has the soul of the idea.The Third Screen is thoughtful and valuable.” - Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works and co-author of Trust Agents