Screen Sizes Don’t Matter. People Do.

rajumalhotraData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Raju Malhotra, senior vice president of of products at Conversant.

Apple’s big news a few weeks ago was its small news.

That is, the smaller screen size of its upcoming iPhone SE, measuring in at just 4 inches, compared to the 6S’s 5.5 inches. Critics everywhere launched into screeds about how this is a step backward, not only in size but in user experience, quality of video viewing and, thus, quality of marketing messages.

If marketers are nervous, though, it shouldn’t be about a lost inch and a half of screen. That doesn’t matter. Screen resolution and nose-to-screen distance matter much more to the experience, especially for mobile video. Not to mention, screen size doesn’t impact audio or times at which mobile videos are projected onto larger screens using, for example, Apple’s AirPlay.

No, if marketers are nervous, it should be because as phones become more affordable – the iPhone SE can be available free with a contract – and their churn rates increase, many don’t have a smart solution for maintaining persistent connections with their customers.

What Really Matters: Staying Connected To People

Connections between marketers and consumers often break down when devices are updated, broken or lost. That is why it’s essential that connections are built at the individual level, not at the device or cookie levels.

Simply collecting consumers’ device IDs isn’t enough for a marketer to reach them effectively. These devices must be tied back to some sort of consumer data that provides context for who the consumer actually is. That way, when consumers ditch their old phones and turn on their new ones, those new devices quickly connect back to the persistent person-level data, and conversations may proceed unbroken.

What Really Matters: What Is Said To Each Person

Individual-level connections do more than just maintain persistent links between marketers and their consumers. They also allow marketers to deliver highly relevant messages to each consumer, using the anonymized data that’s tied to each consumer ID.

Which pre-roll ad do you think would have more impact: a 4-inch video advertising a children’s clothing sale to a known mother of two or a 5.5-inch video advertising it to a 19-year-old college male? For marketing conversations, relevant messages based on individual profiles matter more.

What Really Matters: Putting The Pieces Together

When your marketing message meets a consumer, many criteria determine whether it makes an impact or is ignored. Some of these may be beyond a marketer’s control, such as what mood the consumer is in, what they’re working on in parallel or how loudly their kids are blasting the TV in the other room.

But many factors are within marketers’ control. They can tailor their messaging based on their past experience with individual customers or where they are along the customer journey. Putting all the pieces together and responding accordingly is far more strategic than just focusing on the device type or screen size.

The real marketing impact of a mobile phone’s screen size is negligible. Far more important is who is looking at the screen. That knowledge allows marketers to recognize and reach the right consumers with exactly the right messages – no matter whether their screens are measured in feet, inches or whatever Apple comes up with next.

Follow Raju Malhotra (@RajuMalhotra), Conversant (@conversant) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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